A home on wheels

Posted on: 15th May, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Living without the constraints of a traditional mortgage is something that most homeowners just dream about. We’ve all watched with interest the various TV shows showcasing ‘small house living’ with all its advantages and disadvantages. But is it really possible to live happily in a tiny home and how many of us would even know where to start? Mary O’Brien meets Jamen (25) and Emma DeMarco (23), a recently married young couple of the Jehovah’s Witness faith, who have chosen to buck the trend and live mortgage-free in a converted bus in West Cork.

Jamen, a self-employed window cleaner since leaving school at 16, has always lived frugally. He was camping by the beach in a Mercedes Sprinter when he and Emma started dating last January. “We realised pretty soon that the Mercedes wouldn’t work if we got married,” says Jamen.

An overgrown site donated for use by a friend and a bus bought for €700 solved that problem. Jamen had picked up some building and joinery skills through volunteer work with his Church and so set to work at making the bus somewhere the young couple, who got married last October, could call home.

Emma was away travelling and volunteering in Africa for a few months while Jamen worked on the bus.

“I put the stove in, got a folding bed, and started work straight away,” says Jamen.

“I built the extension around the bus for support, extending the length by 1.5 metres. I then took the roof off the bus and built 1.5 metres upwards,” he explains, “creating room for the bedroom, wardrobe and storage space.” Jamen also added in some windows and spent most of his budget on insulation. The final building costs came to €5,000.

Although 25 square metres of floorspace might be small by most people’s standards, Jamen and Emma feel they could live in an even smaller space and still live comfortably.

More recently, the bus acquired the luxury of electricity and running water. There is a shower with hot running water and a compost toilet.

“We’re encouraged by the Bible to live simply,” says Emma. “But it’s also about time,” emphasises Jamen.“If we live simply we can spend more time with each other and devote more time to preaching our faith.”

Emma is originally from The Netherlands but Jamen, who has Italian heritage, was born in West Cork.

In Ireland, there are around 6,000 ‘publishers’ in the Jehovah’s Witness faith. A ‘publisher’ is someone actively involved in spreading the word of the Church. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a simpler church. One of the key differences to other Christian faiths is the use of a different Bible. Meetings for worship are held at Kingdom Halls.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching and refusing military service. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent, resulting in a new world order.

“We just live by the Bible ourselves, as much as we can,” says Emma.

Jamen’s job as a window cleaner means he can also make time for door-to-door preaching work during the week. “People are definitely becoming more open to it,” says Jamen. “Nowadays even the older generation will sit down and have a chat with you.”

“There are no rules,” says Emma “but we try to get people interested in the Bible.

“We try to live moderately, to be decent people and look after other people. We take or do nothing in excess, drink moderately and don’t do drugs and have respect for other people and our own bodies,” explain the couple sincerely.

The couple have now decided to buy a caravan, move to the West of Clare and live completely off grid. Jamen will return to West Cork every few months to keep up his window cleaning round here. The bus has been sold to Inch Hideaway, an Eco Sustainable camping company in East Cork.

“I will really miss the bus but it’s another adventure and I’m really looking forward to it,” says Emma.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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