‘The rental situation stops me moving back home’
Wild Geese: Jay Galligan enjoys life in Bristol, with its hippies, nightlife and wealthy farmers
Dubliner Jay Galligan: “Since Covid-19, I’m particularly glad to be close to the lakes and rivers.”
Dubliner Jay Galligan has made his home in Bristol, sandwiched between Dublin and London. “Its beauty lies in the fact that my life is without lengthy commutes, but close to the famous Glastonbury festival,” he says.
After finishing school in 2002, the Cabinteely native studied electronic engineering in DCU, focusing on control system design, electro mechanical systems, and industrial electronics.
Galligan says it was “pretty intense”, but it led to his first college placement job in BT in Dublin, where he worked as an infrastructure planning engineer. “It was a great way to start my career path, working with people, problem solving and networking.”
A move to Alcatal followed after college finished, where Galligan worked as a network field engineer, providing solutions for troubleshooting networks, and monitoring queues, among other things.
In his spare time, he worked as DJ hosting regular electronic music nights across Dublin, having a residency in Electric City, and performing with international acts including Ben Klock and Paul Kalkbrenner.
In 2012, a position as an IT services delivery manager at State Street bank, where he spent two years at the company headquarters in the Dublin Docklands, presented itself. “They needed hyper-quick networking for the trading floors, where a few milliseconds could make a difference in millions, so you had to be on the ball. I had to ensure IT for the bank delivered the highest level of quality.”
In 2014, Galligan moved to London to try something new. He fell on his feet, getting an offer from State Street in London’s Canary Wharf district, while finding accommodation in a friend’s flat in Kentish town.
“It was a soft landing for sure. I know other people have a much harder time trying to find work and particularly, a home in London. It’s so difficult if you don’t have contacts.”
Galligan enjoyed the buzz of London “but you need money – a lot of it”.
When he left State Street, Galligan worked for oil giant BP, where he had a number of responsibilities. “I got to do lots of travelling around Europe and practically commuted between London and Stavanger in Norway for a while, which was great.
“During that time I was also starting to spend a lot of time in Bristol, and somehow whenever I was in London, the early starts and time spent in packed tubes, became less and less appealing, so I decided to move.”
At first, he got a job with Dyson’s research, design and development, new product innovation and development teams across the UK and south east Asia.
He spent a year in Singapore, before moving to Bristol to take a role with Dyson on a “top secret” automotive project.
The plan was to create a seven-person SUV (sport utility vehicle), based on technology that Dyson patented, he says. “But it wasn’t feasible financially. Dyson has, compared to the big car companies, a small number of staff to create a prototype like this, so as we got closer to the deadline, it became apparent that we weren’t in the running, when the likes of VW started focusing on electric cars.”
Dyson had planned to invest more than £2 billion in developing a “radical and different” electric vehicle, but it didn’t come to pass.
“It was a massive blow, especially as all the money and effort had gone into it. I decided to take a redundancy package in October last year and to travel around south east Asia, returning in February, just as the coronavirus was taking hold of our lives.”
Since returning from Asia, Galligan has been working on a weekly music radio show and is starting a new job with the University of Bath in July. “I’ll be working with IAAPS [The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems], a new R&I hub, developing zero emissions vehicles. It’s been great having some time off to dedicate to music and outdoor pursuits.”
On life in Bristol, he says: “People are open and friendly. They’ll strike up a conversation, unlike London, where everyone is hidden behind headphones. It’s like a smaller version of Berlin, with hippies and wealthy farmers with good nightlife. The people are very community driven and the city council has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.”
One of the best things about living in Bristol is the fact that it’s inexpensive to live relative to Dublin and London. “You can rent a house share for €400 and apartments start from €800 per month. I considered moving back home, but unfortunately the rental situation and the property market is stopping me from making the move back. Sadly it’s closed off to so many people, even if you have a good job.
“But I do enjoy this vibrant city. Since Covid-19, I’m particularly glad to be close to the lakes and rivers. We’re really close to the Brecon Beacons here, and there’s some amazing scenery in Somerset. I get the best of both worlds and it’s great.”