Home page


"Short Rents Cork" for just long enough

August, 2009, Cork Ireland

I lived in Ireland for about 8½ years between 2001 and 2011, one year of which I was in Cork City.

I moved into a place owned by the proprietors of Sheila's hostel in Cork, and got in without paying a deposit.

It was a large old ill-kept house on Ballyhooly Road, which the owners rented out specifically to short-term tenants. Six rooms, seven beds, a shower and toilet upstairs and down.

I cleaned the kitchen. Nobody was using it at that time. Great, I thought — my own kitchen, in a way. That didn't last, but I wasn't going to cook without scrubbing every surface. Nobody had cleaned it for a long time. That's normal, in rented accommodation, and maybe more so in Ireland — and more so yet, of course, in temporary housing.

The hot water didn't work in the kitchen, but only because the tap did not have a handle. When cleaning the kitchen, I found all the replacement parts that were necessary. The property manager said he didn't know where the shutoff-valve was. I found it. It still took a couple of weeks to get him to fix it — in other words, to come over with a wrench (or "spanner," as they call it here.)

I now had my own bedroom; that was the critical improvement over the hostel. I fashioned a desk by propping a formica-covered particle-board kitchen-cabinet shelf upon an opened drawer of the dresser and across to the box in which my iMac had shipped.

I'd resolved that I did not co-habitate with people for friendship. I made a few exceptions, by default, with uneven results. The young French guy turned out to be good company, and we had a few laughs together. The fellow from Meath turned out to be a set of teeth behind a smile. I had no problems with the German guy; none aside simple disagreements. The Turkish-German woman was intolerably arrogant, but didn't stay long.

Three lads from Tipperary moved in later, and I liked them, as far as it goes. They didn't know how to keep house; but that's normal. "Irish mama's boys" is the expression here. They weren't the worst.

During this time was the flood of 18 November, after which 40% of Cork City residents lost municipal water supply for a couple of weeks — including our house. I flipped. I could make adjustments, for myself — but when I realized how much work it was going to be I composed an open letter and left it on the table essentially demanding that everybody carry water. The potentially horrifying scenario lessened when the German guy and myself put the rubbish bin underneath the broken rainspout out back (and rain kept falling,) by which we had a supply of water for the toilets. But my initial reaction (which happened, incidentally, when I first considered holding in a bowel movement) was that we were in a potentially disgusting and unsanitary situation. That didn't happen — but I didn't make any lasting friendships with our Tipp housemates.

On the same day that a young Corkonian lad moved in, the German guy had brought into the kitchen a bottle of olive oil, some red wine, and a few other items that made me think "oh, hey, this new guy is going to be alright." A simple misunderstanding. The German fellow had kind of figured that, now that the boys were gone he could use the kitchen, since I'd be the only other one cooking there and he knew I'd keep it clean. The Corkonian lad was worse by far than all three of the Tipp lads. He had friends over, likable folks, alright — but they would routinely destroy the place with beer and cigarettes and he'd leave it as if he didn't see it, and he'd use the kitchen without acknowledging he'd used it.... Irish mama's boy in extremis.

I decided, in January of 2010, that logic was not going to be my guide. I decided that I was going to find a place to live alone — and I did find one. And then another, and then a job.