Joyrider by Ross McDonnell
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Publisher: Thirty Nine Books
Joyrider is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the Ballymun housing estate. The book documents rites of passage on the ‘block’: experiences that convert youthful abandon to criminal enterprise.
Inspired by societal changes Ross McDonnell spent several years working in Ballymun as residents were being relocated in anticipation of the complex’s final demolition. The estate, constructed to replace Dublin’s inner city tenements in the 1960s, was a failure from inception.
Despite its utopian vision, the lack of planning and infrastructure rendered the area chronically under-developed. Ballymun became an iconic symbol of the city’s underclass, ravaged by successive drug epidemics and inter-generational malaise.
Joyrider, now beautifully published in its complete form for the first time, depicts a marginalised youth reclaiming space in the face of this “urban regeneration.” We see, writ large, the forces and tensions that shape and mould us all as young individuals: creation and destruction, inclusion and escapism, environment and identity.