Former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald was guest of honour at celebrations held on Sunday last to mark the 20th anniversary of the Cathedral Close Apartment complex in Waterford city centre.
Dr FitzGerald, a patron of the facility, joined residents at an open day at Cathedral Close where he met with Mayor Mary Roche, Bishops William Lee and Michael Burrows along with Dean of Christ Church Trevor Lester.
Apartment Manager Pippa Galloway, who has been involved in the project from its infancy in the mid-1980s, was delighted with how the day proceeded.
“We were delighted to have Dr FitzGerald with us to mark this significant anniversary,” she said.
“We have 29 apartments in total, and there are just a few vacancies at the moment, so as part of the open day, we showed members of the public around the facility to give them a glimpse of what life is like here.”
Ms Galloway added: “Everyone that lives here does so independently. And being in a city centre location such as this, people can, if they so choose, give up their cars without forfeiting their independence too much given where we are situated.
“We’ve got a very happy group of people living here at the moment. They come together for DVD nights, bingo and cards and there’s a very friendly, homely atmosphere which is what we’ve striven for over the years.”
Recalling the initial days of fundraising for the project back in 1985, Pippa can remember sitting in a creaking office on the site where the apartments now stand.
“It hasn’t always looked like this,” she said, “so to see it doing so well and to have so many people happily living in a local community setting in such a beautiful, historic location, is a source of tremendous reward”.
Thanking Dr FitzGerald for visiting, Pippa Galloway remembers the former Fine Gael leader’s attendance when the building project for the site was signed some two decades ago.
“To have had him with us today was brilliant and I know that we were all delighted to meet and talk with him again.”
Cathedral Close, which dates back to 1702, is said to be the oldest continually occupied building in Waterford.
Among the other speakers at Christ Church on Sunday afternoon were Eamon McEneaney of the Waterford Museum of Treasures and well-known city Doctor Eithne Brenner.