Niamh Molloy, 27: ‘I'm unwilling to leave my country for work’

Niamh Molloy. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Niamh Molloy. Photograph: Brian Farrell


This article is part of The Irish Times Generations project. Since April 2014, people ranging in age from 20 to 102 have shared their views on Irish life, past and present, with reporter Rosita Boland. Read all those published so far at


Niamh Molloy lives in Roscommon town

I grew up just outside Roscommon town. My parents, Noel and Dympna, are both artists, so we had a bohemian childhood. We were always going to exhibitions. Bronze casting in our backyard was normal to us.

I did human genetics in Trinity College Dublin. I worked very hard to get those points. I wouldn’t have been able to go to college without my grant, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go and that my family’s financial situation didn’t stop me from going to college. People of my generation don’t always look at what they should be grateful for.

Society told us that if you go to college you will get a good job. I was always taught that you work hard, you focus, and you will get a job.

In 2010 I applied to do a PhD in NUI Galway, in biochemistry, and got accepted.

I was six months in Galway, and I was driving home one evening. My car aquaplaned in a downpour, and went off the road, and a fence came in through the back window. I sat there for I don’t know how long. I was in pure shock. I could smell burning, and I suddenly thought, I’ll be damned if I survive this accident and then die burning, so I got out of the car.

Four days later I went into shock. I was shaking and couldn’t stop; my hands and my head, they kept shaking. That was my moment. I thought, If I had died in that car accident what would people have said about me? I was 22. I wanted people to think I had done something with my life.

I decided the PhD wasn’t for me. I transferred to a research master’s at NUI Galway, and got the master’s in 2011. Then I did a HDip in teaching. I knew what I really wanted to do was teach. I had to finance it myself. I did an extra course to be able to teach maths as well as science and biology.

I had a temporary job in a school in Castleblayney for seven months. In the summer of 2013 I started applying again for work. I didn’t find work. I applied for more than 20 jobs, with little to no response from anyone. I had teaching experience and good qualifications. It was so disheartening not to get a reply.

There is an undercurrent in society of “why are you unemployed?”, like it’s your fault. If you’re unemployed you’re not a bad person; you’ve just found yourself in a situation where there isn’t a job in your field. I don’t want a mansion with five cars and six holidays a year; I only want enough to survive. People became very focused on material things during the Celtic Tiger era, and I think we should be focused on people instead.


Hard on everyone

The recession has been a shock for a lot of young people. Lots of my generation have no jobs, are living at home with parents, and are stuck. It’s very difficult to find identity if you’re living at home. It’s hard on both parties in the house.

But I believe I’m fortunate that I’m not in my 30s and saddled with mortgage debt. We are renting a four-bed house in Roscommon, with a fabulous big garden, for very little money. We are paying well below average rent for a property this size. We have family nearby who help with childcare. I couldn’t have this quality of life in Dublin on the money we have.

My generation think they have a right to everything without seeing that with that right comes responsibility. It’s a complacency. They don’t see that it’s their social responsibility to vote to help make things happen, make change happen. Some people live in countries stuck in a dictatorship and can’t vote on anything. I couldn’t wait to be able to vote.

I think a lot of people in their 20s don’t vote. It’s laziness. You might have an opinion on something, but then you don’t go out and vote, so what’s the point? My generation are not making the connection between their actions and changing the law, which is why I am worried that the marriage referendum won’t be carried.

I found out I was pregnant in December 2013. Laragh was a surprise – but the best thing that ever happened to me. I live with my partner, and he works full time and a lot of nights. Being a mother is going to mean I can’t procrastinate about anything.

I don’t go to Mass, but we did christen Laragh. I have faith. I don’t even know what I believe in. The scientist in me says one thing, and I say another.

I think, as a society, we’re a bit down on ourselves at the moment. I’m not willing to leave my country to look for work. The State spent tens of thousands on my education, and I’m trying to be here for the re-emergence of the economy.

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