NCL – Mark

“I was six when we moved to Clondalkin. There was nothing here back then. When I say nothing, I mean, no shops, no roads, no buses, no community centres, no health centre… there wasn’t even a school. We had to go to another school and use parts of their facilities; and when I reached secondary school, there was no secondary school either. We had to use a building up in Lucan that was not fit for purpose. It was mouldy, damp and there were leaks coming through the ceiling… We had to go out and fight as students to get ourselves a proper school. My background in campaigning came from there. Growing up, we had to campaign for almost all basic services. I remember our parents would join us and the whole community would come together. The community spirit was amazing and I think that was the one thing that really pushed us forward. It’s been a long road for North Clondalkin and we are not halfway through yet. The housing crisis has left a significant mark on this part of the city. In 2018, I had my first hands-on experience with the seriousness of this crisis when my landlord had no choice, but to sell the place I was renting. After six months of searching, I had to overhold the property for three months as I was still unable to find anything suitable. There were places where I had to wait in a queue with over a hundred people interested in the same property. I ended up having to use the same homeless services I used to work with. When I arrived, the staff thought that I was joking. They could not believe that the county counsellor was actually there to stay. I spent about six months in and out of the homeless shelters and sofa surfing. When you are in the process, you don’t have any other choice but to put one foot in front of the other until you are back on track. I hadn’t realised how badly it affected me until I actually closed the door of a new rental. I’ve got great references; I’ve worked all my life but it was still so difficult. A lot of the people here don’t have these privileges to be able to go out and find a place. People of Clondalkin are well used to the challenges of ordinary life, but the housing crisis will probably, once again, bring the whole community together and we will have to fight just like we did for our schools.”

This post was highlighted by South Dublin Libraries as part of the ‘A Day in the Life’ Series.

‘A Day in the Life’ Series is a collaboration with South Dublin Libraries through the Dormant Account Funds. We created a series of interviews to get a glimpse into the lives of the people living in the North Clondalkin area. North Clondalkin Libraries will host the entire series as an exhibition in early 2022, as soon as restrictions allow.