01 May 2015


Well it has been a strange few months to start off 2015! Bill got some kind of crud from a guy in the GP's tiny waiting area--that was in February. Then he got some back spasms, which reoccur intermittently. Then he went down with a bad case of shingles. The pain which usually accompanies this did not begin until he was already 2 weeks in, but when it came, it incapacitated him. We had been thinking about moving but we were not having any luck getting return calls from letting agents so we decided to let it go, stay here, take day trips, and decide where we wanted to move at a later date.

As it turned out, the day trips never happened and it was just as well that we never got replies from letting agents, because Bill was in no shape to move or travel. At one point he commented that he wished the place he'd seen listed months ago--a terraced cottage in the Old Coast Guard Station in Killybegs--would become available again. At the time he first saw it, we were in the middle of our Ballinrobe lease and we could not pursue it. Less than a week after he said that, the listing was back up. I hadn't paid much attention to it before, since we couldn't pursue it anyway, but I looked at it this time and really liked it. It seemed like a shame in a way, because we both thought it would be snapped up before Bill could get well enough to travel. We watched and waited.

By the Easter holiday weekend he was saying he felt like we should go the next week. We decided to wait until the Tuesday following the holiday (which was 7 April) and see how he felt. If he still felt like he could go, I would call the letting agent and see if I could make contact.

Tuesday morning came and he gave the go-ahead. I called the office and spoke to the letting agent right then. He said the place was still available and we arranged to see it the following day. He asked if we could provide a letter of reference from a previous landlord and since we did not want to give notice here until we had another place, I emailed the landlord we had in Maine. He was kind enough to write a really great letter and email it to me. I forwarded that along to the letting agent. We booked a couple of nights in a B&B, packed our backpacks and caught the 7:20 am bus out of Ballinrobe the next morning. We got to town, went straight to the agent's office, went to the cottage, looked at it, said we would take it and then settled in to wait. He sent the letter to the owner and said he would contact us the next day. Late in the afternoon he called and said that the owner agreed to rent it to us so we went by and gave him a security deposit. The following week we went back with a small load and signed the lease. We paid the first month rent and got the keys. We have been going back and forth ever since, bringing suitcases and backpacks (Bill is still not up to par 2 months into this shingles stuff, so the loads are lighter than they otherwise would be). We have done 4 round trips and have a one-way journey next week when we move up to Killybegs for good. We have been moving by public transport. I have moved using a moving van, a U-Haul, the US Postal Service, our truck, and a plane, but this is the first time I have moved by bus--it's really handy to have places furnished here!

We have had a couple of surprises as we tidy up the odds and ends of moving house, as they say here. First of all, I think there is a bit of cross-cultural communication stuff that is tricky. When we look stuff up online we end up finding stuff that seems like it is what we need until you read further and things get confusing. The bank was a case in point. We found all this stuff online that made it sound like a long and involved process to switch branches. Finally we decided that it'd be best to just go to the bank and ask what we needed to do. When I said we were moving, the woman immediately assumed I wanted to close my account. I told her I didn't want to close it, but we'd be living in Killybegs and would need to use the bank there. "Oh you don't have to do anything," she said. I asked about changing contact info and she said that yes, we would have to do that and she would give us a form, which she spent 5 minutes searching for on the computer. She printed it and gave it to us, telling us to fill it out and bring it back. We got the form on Monday and left for Killybegs Tuesday. We came back yesterday and filled out, signed, and returned the form this morning. The woman there signed it, dated it, said she would fax it to Dublin and the change should happen Tuesday (this is a bank holiday weekend) or Wednesday. We are almost afraid to hope that it could be so easy.

Eircon is another thing. Bill was going around in circles trying to figure out what to do, so I googled "eircom service and moving" and got a simple form to fill out which supposedly will start the process of moving the service from one address to another. They are supposed to call and we will see. I have no more trust in them than I ever did, but they do hold one hostage--either through the contract or because they own the phone lines. Even if we try to switch to a new provider, we will still be entangled with them to some degree because they own the lines--and according to some stuff Bill has seen online, people have paid dearly for trying to go with a different provider. They really have worked out this rip-off con game quite well.

One unpleasant surprise was the post office. Turns out that if we want them to redirect our mail to the new address, we have to fill out a lengthy form, bring proof of address of a very specific type, and pay a 65 euro fee for 3 months of service--and it goes up from there. We have one piece of recurring mail that is important, so Bill changed the address on that and we will leave the rest to be delivered here and discarded by the next tenant--just as we did with the mail we got for the previous tenant!

All in all the good outweighs the bad. We may still have hassles with Eircom and the bank. The mail issue is a small one. The electricity seems like it'll be straightforward--we just send them a meter reading on our last day.

After trying to contact several letting agents and steeling myself for a hassle, we ended up having a wonderful experience. This guy is great. He has great communication practices, answers questions thoroughly and clearly, gave us a lease that was standard and gave general terms, then gave terms related specifically to that property and then attached a multi-page inventory of every single item in the house--right down to the number of plates and coffee mugs! I told him I was impressed with how thorough it all was. He brought us to the cottage and showed us how to use the water heater and when he had a question himself about a couple of things, he called the owner and got answers. He will manage the property as the owner lives in Dublin.

The owner went to the cottage before we signed the lease and cleaned everything, checked stuff, and even bought a stand alone freezer for the place! The fridge that was there was an under-the-counter model with a tiny freezer compartment. He felt a bigger one would be better so he got one. He also left a new frying pan and new wine glasses. I thought it was a really thoughtful thing to do. It was so wonderful to stumble into the place after a long day and find it some homey and welcoming!

Looking back, I am glad those other letting agents never called or emailed back. If they had, I might have missed my chance to live in the little cottage at the Old Coast Guard Station in Killybegs. As soon as we got off the bus, I felt like I was in the right place and when we walked into the cottage, I knew it was the right place for us.


  1. Thanks for the new entry. I am looking forward to seeing photos of the apartment and surrounding areas. Are you near the water? Hope your husband is well. I always enjoy this blog. Nadine

    1. Hi Nadine,
      We are indeed near the water! Killybegs is the largest fishing port in Ireland, even though it's just a small village and the harbour is at the center of town. We are at one end of the harbour, sort of on the outskirts of town, so it makes up a good part of the view from our kitchen window downstairs and bedroom window upstairs! Bill is feeling better, but still doesn't have the stamina he usually does. Now that we are here and not going back and forth anymore, we have been able to get out and about a little bit and Bill has started a photo gallery here: http://www.pbase.com/mikiruaq/kb

      He plans to add more photos to this blog soon!

      I also have another blog where I ramble on about day to day life and stuff and there are some photos of the cottage on that.

      Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!