In September 2019, my then 8 year old son, our two dogs, and one hamster moved to the West of Ireland.
We had rented a wonderful cottage on the outskirts of Dublin since my son was born. But our time had come to an end there. Our wonderful landlady needed her cottage back, and we knew it was time to move on.
I had lost a baby a couple of years before and I was ready to change our lives, to start a fresh. Staying in Dublin was non negotiable. We had no prospects of affording a home, or even a rental. So we decided it was time to take a bigger leap.
With the kind support of a wonderful friend of mine, who hired us a removals van. We packed up the contents of our small cottage, our three animals and headed for the ocean and the mountains. With no clue as to what lay ahead.
We had decided my son would attend Sligo Sudbury School. A democratic school where there is no curriculum only self directed learning. Where children get to choose what they want to learn. A whole hearted place where children are encouraged to learn about themselves and others. Where life’s lessons of empathy, understanding, negotiation and kindness are at the fore. A school where the child and their needs come first.
We landed in Sligo. Where we were lucky to rent a stunning log cabin, nestled under beautiful Benbulben mountain.
I was studying in Dublin at the time finishing my degree. Every month we would treck down to Dublin so I could finish my studies.
After 6 months of renting in the West, swimming in the Atlantic ocean, meeting like minded friends. Exploring the mountains and surfing the wild waves of the west. We came upon an old Irish stone cottage for sale.
By budget was tight. To the exact penny to be honest, I looked for months before I found the cottage, I navigated a new world of auctions, real estate agents, negotiations, bidding wars, discussions, solicitors. Online auctions and disappointments. Then one morning coming back from Dublin, I fell upon, what was to be our new home.
An old 1889 stone cottage. Sitting on the side of a hill, in the wilderness of Leitrim. On one side stood a mountain scattered with sheep and broken fences. On the other side stood a steep incline, scattered with large boulders, trees, ditches and more broken fences. I stood there and said to myself, this is it. I won’t lie, my son said ‘no way mum!’
The next two years would prove to be bigger than I could have imagined. I finished my degree, took care of my little family, renovated our cottage, settled into a new life in Leitrim, and began building my business, again.
As I look back it all sounds quite idilic, it wasn’t. It was hard slog, long days and late nights. Getting up at 4am to study so I could work in the day, parent my son, and then renovate again in the long evenings. I managed all this as a single parent, but the people I met along the way more than made up for my being alone. I met people I don’t think will ever know to what extent they played in supporting my son and I. During the time I bought the cottage, and moved from the rental, we lived with friends, awesome friends! They cared for us, fed us, loved us for who we were. Then COVID hit! well we weren’t expecting that one…but we trudged on. We moved into our unfinished cottage with no floors, and lived through lockdown. It was an emotional, powerful time.
What this experience taught me was the strength we have that lies beneath. I had fallen hard after my loss, I could not see much hope. There were some very dark days. But I had a son, and he needed me, I also had my life and I decided I was going to live it! I made a choice to live again. Feel again. Breathe again.
In October 2021, we were privileged to have Maggie from RTE 1, Cheap Irish Homes come to our house and film our renovation progress, needless to say it’s still a work in progress. If you would like to see our small snippet of filming heres the link Episode 6, Season 2.
RTE 1 Series 2 Episode 6 Cheap Irish Homes
If I can do this so can you…happy searching!