HOUSING is rarely the subject of a good news story these days.
But, in a chink of light amid the gloom, the tenth anniversary of a housing scheme for the elderly developed by a local voluntary committee was celebrated in Tullamore on Friday afternoon last.
The Tihilly housing scheme, located at the rear of Clontarf Road in the heart of the county town, has proved a huge success with residents and the wider community over the past decade.
Developed by the Rights for the Elderly voluntary housing association, the scheme was officially opened in 2009 by then Taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
The scheme also boasts its own community hall, the Darmagh Centre where residents, committee members, clergymen, Gardai and others gathered for a celebratory barbecue to mark the anniversary last Friday.
The affair was a joyous occasion added to by an impromptu birthday celebration for Seamus Gorman. The only slight hiccup on the afternoon was when candles on Seamus’ cake accidentally set off the fire alarms but the disruption was met by laughter by the attendance.
Long term resident, former publican Ann Tobin, thanked all those “who put their heads together to build these beautiful homes.”
“Ten years ago I was a young and healthy one but now I need assistance myself,” said Ms Tobin thanking her family for all their help.
She also thanked the scheme’s caretakers, Michael Dwane and Rory Hensey, former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, for securing financial assistance for the development and all the committee members.
Molly Buckley, chairman of the rights for the Elderly committee, paid tribute to her hard working group – Jim Quinn [Secretary], Tadhg O’Brien [Treasurer], Mary Quirke, Aileen Ahearne, Catriona Morden, Sam McMorris, Willie Wall, Charlie McCarthy and Gerry Fagan.
She also praised former members of the committee involved in developing the scheme including Margaret Murray who is now a resident at Tihilly. She added that a number of young people had also recently joined the group which was a welcome development.
Ms Buckley recalled the first fund-raising venture for the scheme, a coffee morning held by Eileen O’Brien, and said the committee had received financial assistance from many sources including Tullamore Lions Club.
She said it was fortunate that the scheme was located to housing developed by the Tullamore Housing Association whom they worked in close co-operation.
Ms Buckley also revealed that the Rights for the Elderly group had plans to develop new housing in Tullamore when a suitable site was identified.
The chairperson extended thanks to the local Gardai for their advice and for giving regular talks on security at the Darmagh Centre.
Thanking Offaly County Council, she said there was also a very active residents committee in Tihilly that was “very involved in everything that happens here.”
Describing the scheme as an example of independent living at its finest, she said families of the residents also provided crucial support.
A special blessing to mark the tenth anniversary was also performed by representatives of the four main local churches – Fr Rory O’Brien, himself a resident of Tihilly, Fr Luke Ohiemi Rev. Nigel Gill, the new Methodist Minister who will be installed later this month, Rev. William Hayes, Presbyterian Minister and Canon Issac Delamere, Rector.
Fr. Luke a regular visitor to the centre with communion for some of the residents, said he always found that a spirit of calmness and peacefulness pervaded the scheme.
Following the formalities and the planting of a tree a barbecue was enjoyed by the residents, committee members and guests.