They were speaking at the official opening of 52 new homes developed as part of the North West Quarter Regeneration Plan.
Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald returned to his old neighbourhood to turn the sod on 47 new homes, which will be developed as part of the next stage of the multi-year project, which aims to deliver a total of 650 new homes for the area.
Mr Fitzgerald said he was ‘incredibly proud’ of the progress made in the community, remarking that it was ‘all green fields’ when his parents got the keys to their own home in the area some 44 years ago.
Proud residents moved in shortly before Christmas, occupying two- and three-bedroom townhouses and apartments with the highest spec energy ratings, including solar panels, to reduce heating bills.
The 52 homes were developed by Deermount Construction for a total of €10.6 million over the last 19 months.
Together with Minister of State for Housing and Urban Planning Damien English, the Lord Mayor turned the sod on the next stage of works, which will see a green area developed into 47 new homes at a cost of €11.8 million by Murnane and O’Shea.
For the long-term residents of the area, it is a world away from their old houses.
“I am 43 years in the area,” said Agnes Moore. “For me, there is such a difference. The heating, no damp, the bigger kitchen, it’s just fabulous. There is nothing more that you could want.
“We all know one another and we are all around the same age,” added Breda O’Mahony. “It is great to keep the community together.”
Another resident, Johnny O’Shea, raised six children in a nearby terraced house which is now marked for demolition. His new home is a world apart from his old one, he said.
“It’s like Buckingham Palace up in here,” he joked. The Lord Mayor hailed the transformation of the area over the last number of years, which has also included the construction of a new library and a primary health care facility on the nearby St Mary’s campus.
“This is special for the residents,” he said. “It comes after 44 years of living in poor housing conditions and all of this comes from the residents. The local residents have been campaigning for this for a long, long time.”
Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty added: “The Cork North West Quarter Regeneration Plan is a making a real difference to the quality of lives of families in Knocknaheeny and to the wider community and will continue to do so as the rest of the planned homes are developed.”
Cork City Council has Stage 1 funding approval from the Department of Housing for another 104 houses in Phases 1C, 2B and 2C of the plan — schemes which are worth a total of €27.9m.