Road scholar: Conni Dawson, from Enniskillen, who plans to live in her converted campervan in Dublin when she goes to UCD in Dublin in September due to sky-high rental costs for students.
May 25 2021 02:30 AM
The cost of accommodation in Dublin has driven one student to come up with a unique approach to finding somewhere to live ahead of the start of her degree course at UCD.
Conni Dawson (28), originally from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, has decided the only option she has is to stay in a converted camper van.
While living in the camper van is not new to Conni, who has toured around Ireland as a musician, she admitted she never thought she would be making it her home for the next four years.
“To be honest, if I didn’t have it, I just wouldn’t be going to university,” said Conni, who is currently living in Co Clare and plans to start studying landscape architecture in September.
Sky-high rentals in Dublin, her music career grinding to a halt because of Covid-19 and the lack of any additional student finance options meant that it looked for a while as if her hopes of returning to her studies would have to be parked. “I just couldn’t afford it,” she said.
“If I could get something for €300 or €400 a month I would rent, but it’s just not affordable, not on student money.
“I originally got the van in February 2020 with the idea of touring around Europe over the summer, but that never happened.
“I got stuck in Co Clare for Covid,” said Conni, who had been performing as a full-time harpist when the pandemic saw her ability to earn disappear overnight.
“When it all happened we thought it would be a couple of weeks so I went there and figured it would be a nice place to hang out for a short while,” she said.
“As it became more and more apparent that the music industry wasn’t going to be coming back in a hurry, I started looking at my other options and decided I would go back to university.”