No place to call home for Irish students in New York this summer
A summer of work sun and fun has turned into a nightmare for visiting Irish students
“We’ll get something,” said Quillinan positively to his friends.
Dolan and Blennerhassett laugh nervously.
Although Brian Walkins, Sandra Nolan and Michael Dwane, all from Co. Offaly, are not students, they are in the same predicament as the J-1 students. The trio are planning on spending the summer in New York working and having fun.
Both Walkins and Dwane are here to play hurling for the New York Offaly team. Nolan, who is Dwane’s girlfriend, lost her office job in Ireland a few months ago so she decided to join her boyfriend, a welder who also lost his job in Ireland.
Walkins, when he spoke with the Irish Voice, was just off a plane from Australia, where he spent six months traveling around. On Thursday he was expecting his Irish girlfriend to join him for the summer.
But on Wednesday the friends were walking the streets of Woodlawn and McLean Avenue looking at notice boards for jobs and accommodation.
Meanwhile, trailing through websites at the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers were another three young men, Sean Condron, 20, Fergal Lawlor, 22, and James Hook, 22.
The three young lads hail from Co. Clare and have the opposite problem to the Cork boys. They have jobs, but their accommodation issue is causing them great distress.
Condron, a civil engineer student at Limerick Institute of Technology, and his friends have been in New York since May 24. After spending a few nights lodging at an aunt’s house they found a floor to sleep on with some Mayo friends.
However, the apartment where they put their head down at night is on 120th Street in Harlem.
“This is just something temporary but we want out of there straight away,” Condron tells the Irish Voice.
“It’s just really dodgy,” adds Lawlor, a third year construction student at Limerick Institute of Technology.
“Plus,” said Hoot, “there are eight of us in a two bedroom apartment that is so small so there are four of us sleeping in the living room.”
Condron said they don’t really feel safe in the area. “There is a drug rehab center right next to the house and there are a lot of dodgy characters going in and out at all hours of the night,” he said.
Little did Condron and the boys know that Wednesday was going to be their lucky day – well, sort of!
Last Wednesday they took a half day from their maintenance jobs -- the three friends work in an apartment building in the city for $500 each a week doing odds and ends jobs -- to find a better place to stay for the remainder of the summer.
After hours of searching the Internet for accommodation and sharing their story with Maura Jordan at the front desk of the Aisling Center, the center staff introduced the boys to four lovely ladies from Co. Mayo -- Niamh Healy, 19, Denise Gallagher, 19, Aislinn Farrington, 19 and Meave Rattigan, 19.
Luckily for the boys, the girls, who were at the center looking for jobs, needed to rent out a room in a house they sub-letted for the summer in Yonkers. A perfect match was created.
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