The lives of commuters: ‘I don’t get to see as much of home as I would like’

Daily, weekly and former long-term commuters share more stories of life on the road


New Census 2016 statistics released this week showed more and more people are travelling long distances and taking longer to commute to work. In the last in our series of commuter stories, three more people offer an insight into their lives on the road.

Rosemary Horan, tech writer/content editor

Commute: Crookedwood near Mullingar to Ballsbridge, Dublin – 2 hours 30 minutes each way (daily)

Years ago, when I could telecommute part-time, we left Dublin and returned home to Co Westmeath where property was affordable and our children could grow up in the countryside, near family. I have no regrets about moving because of the quality of our life. The only downside is that I don’t get to see as much of home as I would like anymore.

Redundancy brought me back to Dublin for work because there was nothing around here. I am now a customer of one of Irish Rail’s Cinderella services. I don’t drive to Dublin because it is stressful on a clogged N4/M4 and along the canal, and parking is an issue. It is also cheaper to take the train.

I drive 10km to catch the 6.14am train from Mullingar and I’m at work by 8am, having travelled, bleary-eyed, on an overcrowded, grubby and slow train. I sometimes wonder for whose benefit the trains are run.

Coming home, I catch the 5.05pm to Sligo, a comfortable, inter-city service with few stops. The next option is just 10 minutes later, a slow commuter train to Longford that you avoid at all costs, only taking it when you miss the 5.05pm and not much use if you finish work at 5pm.

Worse, the last train to Mullingar is at 7pm, meaning you cannot use public transport on a night out or to engage fully with college life if you’re a student who can’t afford accommodation in Dublin. There are buses around 8.30pm and 11pm but as there’s no integrated ticketing, that costs extra. Moreover, there is no weekend commuter service.

At 79.7km from Dublin, Mullingar should be an easier commute, like better-served towns such as Portlaoise (94.5km to Dublin) or Dundalk (82km).

However, it still takes me roughly the same time to travel by train to Dublin as it did 30-plus years ago.

Rachel Bennett (30), pharmacist

Commute: Ballina, Co Mayo to Bray, Co Wicklow – 3 hours 25 minutes each way (weekly)

I’m originally from Co Antrim but moved to Ballina where my partner is from in December 2015. I commute to work in Bray, Co Wicklow every week.

Since May, I have been leaving Ballina at 5.30am on Mondays, arriving in Bray before 9am, then finishing early at 3.30pm on Fridays and arriving back to Ballina by 7pm. I know I have to be out the door by 3.30pm otherwise the M50 traffic is horrendous.

One stumbling block has been trying to buy a house in Ballina. The banks don’t understand why I work in Bray but want to buy a house in Ballina; one bank actually came back with a “declined” based on me trying to buy a “holiday home”.

I have since appealed this decision and the wait continues.

I rent a shared house from a live-in landlady in Blackrock from Monday to Friday and the rent is still €250 a month more than my partner’s mortgage in Ballina. This expense is one of the things that is making the banks wary of lending, even though it’s clear I’m doing it for my career.

The bottom line is that I would love to have a place of my own, but am being blocked at every angle based on location, and the outgoings needed to have my job.

On the other hand, I love what I do now and would not give it up. I could see myself doing it for the foreseeable future although if children came into the equation in future it would be difficult, but we would make it work.

On balance I would still encourage people to consider commuting or living in Dublin, Monday-Friday, if it is what it takes to get their dream job as it makes such a big impact on happiness and wellbeing.

David Glynn (40), marketing/social media consultant

Commuted: Galway city to Claremorris, Co Mayo for eight years until May 2015 – 90 minutes each way (daily)

A few years back I had the opportunity to work in Claremorris, Co Mayo. As it was with a new hotel it was an exciting opportunity. However, I was happily living in Galway city.

The options were move there or begin a daily 129km round-trip commute. This was a little daunting given that I was quite a new driver at the time.

I decided to do the commute for a year and see how it went. I will never forget the first few months as it was the depths of winter, meaning it was dark in the mornings and dark in the evenings coming home.

In order to be in work for 9am I had to leave my house at 7.30am and usually was driving solidly for the full time. My route meant I had to cross Galway city and get on the N17. Passing Claregalway made me feel grateful as at least I was going against the traffic not like the poor inbound commuters who were at a standstill.

Every minute was accounted for and the various landmarks became time checkers with often waves and hoots from other motorists who I would know.

One of the saddest parts of the commute on such a busy road was the amount of fatal accidents you came across. This always made me stop and think.

The road was very poor in places and it is ironic that now that I don’t use it, the standard has improved dramatically and even more so with the new Gort-Tuam motorway due to open soon.

It was really difficult for the first year to adapt as when I got home all I wanted to do was sleep straight away. However, adapt I did and I continued to do it for 8½ years.

I am still living in Galway city. As I cycle past Galway Cathedral or Salthill promenade in the sunshine I realise I am lucky to be able to cycle into the city centre in 15 minutes. However, I have to say there are times when I have cycled and the pouring rain tested my waterproof jacket to the limits.

It is great to have the extra time that was once spent commuting but I would not rule out doing it again should the need dictate.