homeless ireland

Homeless love: 'We look after each other but I'm far from happy on the streets'

Read Thomas and Helen’s story here.


THOMAS AND HELEN have a lot in common. They are both from Traveller families, they are both dependent on alcohol and they both live on the streets of Dublin.

Despite their chaotic lives – or maybe because of them – the pair met and forged a bond within a matter of weeks.

As part of a recent project, well-known photographer Donal Moloney interviewed the couple after a night sleeping rough in the city centre.


Thomas had been released from prison just two weeks before, where he had served a short sentence for a number of drunk and disorderly charges.

“I was homeless before I went to prison,” he tells Moloney. “I’m on the streets for about five years. I’m from Dublin. Prison is home…”

Asked about temporary accommodation, Thomas says he is better on the streets than in a hostel because of a tendency to get into fights.

“I blame the drink for a lot of things,” he adds, explaining his addiction is “nothing too personal” but about “class, childhood, things like that”.

“It just keeps you warm,” the 31-year-old also jokes.

“I just got with my new girlfriend here. I would like to [get off the drink]. I’ve started to think. I have a couple of charges for drunk and disorderly there a couple of days ago. I might have to go back to prison for a couple of weeks or months. I was thinking of getting my head together and, obviously, get her head together.”

However, his optimism fades quickly. “You could think that way but when the time comes to it, it never works. It’s always something going to hit you in the face.”

Thomas says he lost one of his sisters to suicide, and another is in prison with a heroin addiction.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m 31 and I feel 60. I’m in this town since I was 12 or 13 years of age. When I was living in Blackrock, this was our hang-out spot. I’d say I’ve been on the streets 8 or 9 years.”

On his relationship with Helen, he says, “I met her when I got out of prison. She was homeless and going through a bad patch. Two of us just clicked and ended up here.”

At 25 years of age, Helen, originally from Westmeath, is younger than her new boyfriend. She says she hasn’t been on the streets for long.

“When my father died, my family got fucked up,” she offers by way of explanation.

“In the past, I have been in the shelters. Never lasted that long. A night or two would be the most I’d say. Never cared for them. I was drunk or stoned”

However, she told Moloney that she is “far from happy on the streets”.

“Trust me… I won’t be on them for much longer,” she adds. “I’d like to live a normal life and try to do something for myself.”

Donal Moloney / Vimeo

Thanks to Donal Moloney for permission to use images and video. See more of his work at his Facebook page here

Top image: Andrew Bennett via Flickr/Creative Commons

Catch up with all the rest of our Homeless Ireland series here>

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