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'Living with your parents in your late 20s isn't not going to kill you but it’s uncomfortable, it’s stifling'

‘I want to move forward but I’m being forced to take a step back and move back home because of the current rental market’, writes Brigid O’Dea.

FOLLOWING DAVID KITT’S Facebook post revealing his decision to emigrate and Blindboy’s ensuing podcast discussion which sparked numerous think-pieces, the question of Dublin as a home for today’s artists is i mbéal an phobail.

Having moved back from Seville, sunny south Spain, only days ago, this discussion prevails at a poignant time for me.

Why did I return home? Back to ‘you left the immersion on’ texts, well-intentioned questions of ‘will you be home for dinner?’ and my own inner dialogue of ‘would it be appropriate for my Italian ermm…’friend’…to stay here for a few nights…?’.

There’s no malevolence. It’s all love and kindliness but it’s tiring. I’m 26, almost 27. Living with a parent, or parents, at this age is like wearing a wool jumper on a summer’s afternoon; it’s not going to kill you but it’s uncomfortable, it’s stifling.

And it must be said, that I’m relatively lucky. My family home is central enough, it’s by the sea and I have a supportive and caring father who has never once pressured me to leave. Not everyone is so lucky.

Our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, stands for those who get up early every morning. While I have nothing but respect for hard-working ‘early risers’, who’s looking out for those pursuing slightly less conventional careers; the aspiring artists, musicians, and writers bringing personality and soul to our city?!

What of the DJs that keep us dancing, chefs and waiting staff that keep us fed and smiling bar staff facilitating our stuttering and stumbling courtships and lifelong friendships?! Not to mention the many thousands of taxi drivers that get us home safely and hard-working service industry workers that keep so many plates spinning and a city ticking.

And who stands for me?

As a result of a chronic illness, I am unable to rise early in the morning. I am unable to work full-time hours. I am unable to complete triathlons. But I contribute a lot. I work exceptionally hard for my job, to the extent that my evenings are largely spent lying in crushing pain in a dark room with ice on my head. I volunteer, formally and informally, I write, I laugh, I support my family and friends.

But this country is leaving my behind. Or at least, Dublin, my home town is.

‘A step back when I wish to move forward’

My exceptionally supportive employers, allowed me a short period of working remotely on a reduced basis. Having tasted freedom in the home of sweet orange marmalade where life was less of a tangle of fast-rising rents, box bedrooms, buses, trains, fatigue and incessant strain, but instead a tide of age-appropriate independence, it is hard to settle back into a life quenched by returning to my family home. A step back when I wish to move forward.

Many friends and artists I follow on social media have made Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon and other emerging cities their home. Blindboy argues, in his podcast, that artists need the opportunity to fail should they wish to succeed; an option unavailable to those struggling to pay extortionate rents in Dublin.

Not only do we need the opportunity to fail, but creatives need space; we need literal and metaphorical space, both a physical and mental breadth to cultivate our art. And what creative space is there, between the four walls of your childhood, the torn edges of a Ben McKenzie poster, barely hidden by a new Fatti Burke print. The art wilts in the stale air.

Why I did I come home at all? Because, Dublin is exactly that; it is home.

It is cans by the ‘leafy-with-love banks’ canal, a questionable play in the Project Arts, it’s the blackberries and their creative juices in Howth and a toastie in Clontarf’s Happy Out.
That’s my Dublin. That’s my home.

While some may dismiss me as lofty or entitled, if we force from Dublin, all our creatives, all those doing life differently, whether for reasons imposed or chosen, what are we left with but noise? Dublin, let’s keep the music playing!

Brigid O’Dea is a writer and aspiring children’s author. Readers can find her DidgesDitties children’s stories on Facebook  and Instagram.


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