Kildare's Barry Lumsden studys at Limerick Institute of Technology Clonmel.
Newbridge Game Art and Design student Barry Lumsden’s struggle to survive off the SUSI Maintenance Grant was forcing him to consider quitting his dream course.
The 26-year-old was sleeping in the back of his Nissan Almera in car parks around Clonmel as he searched high and low for a part-time job in Clonmel to make ends meat.
But since Barry’s story went viral on nationalist.ie, his luck has taken a welcomed turn. Barry has received free bed and board offers until his circumstances improve, and he also has a job interview lined up in the coming days. “The response from the local community has been amazing. I’m very grateful to everyone for going to so much effort to help me out,” thanked Barry.
A Clonmel mother of five who wants to remain anonymous described Barry’s situation as terrible. “I would never see someone sleeping in the back of a car. Barry’s more than welcome to stay at mine - bed and board - until he gets on his feet. But he has to help out around the house,” she smiled.
Barry told The Nationalist last week: “I have fallen through the cracks of the system and I am being punished for wanting to better myself.
“I love Clonmel and want to move here so I can get more involved in college life, but it is financially impossible for me at the moment and it is looking like I may have to drop out if things don’t get better.
“I get €160 a month and have to use some of that to help out at home. I drove up and down the first week but it was costing me a crazy amount, so I started camping at The Apple Farm in Cahir for €7 a night. It has since closed for the winter so I now sleep in my car for a few nights, drive home and get myself sorted, and then back to sleeping in my car in Clonmel,” an emotional Barry narrated.
Barry’s dream of becoming a 3D environment artist was looking bleak before his living conditions became public knowledge.
“I am living off savings and they are depleting fast, but I will fight on. I have always wanted to study Game Art and Design and have worked so hard to get where I am today. I don’t just want to throw it all away overnight. I have been advised to drop out, stay unemployed for year and reapply for Back to Education Allowance but I won’t give up on my dreams that easily.
“I have applied for jobs in Clonmel and I am hoping my luck will turn the right direction. And in the end if my knuckles are bloody from knocking, my arms tired from swinging and still that door doesn’t open, at least I know I have tried my best,” he continued.
Barry worked as a barman, waiter, kitchen porter, in retail and technology after finishing Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, and feels he has a lot to offer any workplace. “I am great with my hands. I used to paint houses over the summer, and have rebuilt parts of my motorcycle and got lawnmowers working again. I like to figure out how things work,” Barry highlighted.
A sufferer of seasonal affective disorder, Barry also enjoys helping others in need.“I have learnt to never give up on yourself. I know what it is like to suffer with depression as it has haunted me from a young age. But this makes you stronger than the average person, going through the hardships of life while fighting the demons in your head. I can now look back and although I still struggle my past lets me help others. I look at things now and know it could be worse, and it will be better,” Barry added.