The lives of Irish commuters: ‘I see my kids for 30 minutes’

Two people who spend three hours a day travelling for work describe life on the road

Rory Deverell, a commuter who travels from near Tullamore to Dublin every day on the train.

Rory Deverell, a commuter who travels from near Tullamore to Dublin every day on the train.

 

Census 2016 statistics and population figures show that the number of Irish people commuting to work is on the rise, as the economy recovers and the populations of towns in Dublin’s commuter belt increase.

At the same time, more and more people are leaving earlier in the morning and spending longer getting to work as part of their commutes.

In response to our feature on Saturday on commuting in Ireland, The Irish Times asked readers to share their stories on the subject. Here are two people who commute from the midlands to Dublin every day.

Rory Deverell (35), commodity broker

Commute: near Tullamore to Dublin - up to two hours each way

My commute takes between one-and-a-half to two hours a day depending on the Luas and the trains. It has been part of my life for the past nine years so I am used to it and it fits my lifestyle quite well.

I am used to the early starts, usually at about 6.30am. I either grab a quick coffee going out the door or every Tuesday and Thursday Portarlington Leisure Centre is open early, so I can swim there and then catch the 8.10am train to be in the office for 9.30am or so.

For all the failings of the previous governments, the one thing I cannot fault is my train line. The carriages are clean, the staff friendly and the trains are usually on time. The trains are getting busier, though I am not sure if that is because of more people or Irish Rail reducing the number of carriages per train.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time I can get a seat and I use the valuable hour on the train to respond to my emails. (I work for a US company so we get lots of overnight emails.) This allows me to hit the ground running.

Living where we live makes sense for us. We have three kids that go to a really great country school; they have plenty of garden space that most city kids could only dream of and our outgoings are very small.

If I have any gripes, it is that the trains are fine now but if the growth in service doesn’t meet the growth in demand, it will become frustrating, as I need that one hour of productivity I have now.

Coming home usually at about 7.30pm is tough, but you make the best of the 30 minutes or so of family time over dinner and putting the kids to bed.

Am I envious of people living in Dublin? No. Is there a sacrifice to my commute? Sure, but I am doing a job I love and living in a place my family and I love. As long as the rail service performs, hinterland towns are no-brainers for people in similar positions.

Shelly McKenna (40), with her husband Martin. Shelly commutes to Dublin each day from Co Westmeath.
Shelly McKenna (40), with her husband Martin. Shelly commutes to Dublin each day from Co Westmeath.

Shelly McKenna (40), sales and design consultant

Commute: Co Westmeath to Dublin - one hour 30 mins each way

I live in a rural location near the Hill of Uisneach in Co Westmeath – the exact centre of Ireland.

Early on in our marriage, myself and my husband decided that town, city or housing-estate living was not for us, so we headed out to the country in search of a place to call home.

When we bought our house, we were well aware that commuting for work was going to be our lot for a considerable time to come. With this in mind, we agreed that the benefits of living in such an idyllic location far outweighed the drive for work. That was 12 years ago and at that time both of us were working in Dublin.

My husband has since moved his work interest out of Dublin to a more localised base, but I continue to make the daily trek to Dublin.

I work for a furniture company in Palmerstown, leaving the house at 7.45am each morning and returning home at 7pm-7.15pm each evening.

Getting home on a Friday takes longer due to the volume of traffic heading west for the weekend. Bank holidays are longer. If it rains, it slows everything down, and if there is a collision, add on at least another hour.

Getting home at 7pm is tough. The routine goes: dinner, clean up after, a quick catch-up on the day’s events at home and then bed. By the time I arrive home I am ready to hear all about the kids’ and my husband’s days.

“Social life” is a weekend activity only – shoehorned in between the weekly shopping, loads of washing, housework and family events. You learn to appreciate your “down-time” and enjoy it as much as possible.

I actually have a company car and my firm pays the diesel, tolls, tax and insurance. If this wasn’t the case, I don’t think working in Dublin would be as financially viable for me.

As for the lower cost of living, we bought our house in 2006 – when prices were crazy – so I’m sure we could have a house in Dublin for what it cost, just not the type of house that it is - on its own with a bit of space for the animals.

The real cost for us is the time spent commuting. Commuting is difficult but you do get used to it.

Would I trade my country home for a house in a smart estate in Dublin? Not a hope. I’m not so sure the neighbours would be too keen on our menagerie of Shetland ponies, chickens, a pet goat, three dogs and a cat.

We want to hear about your commute, why you do it and how affects your life and your relationship with your family and friends.

Please send an email to commuters@irishtimes.com with your name, contact number and a short description of your commuting life in no more than 300 words.

Please attach a photograph of yourself that can run with your story.