A local woman has €150,000 to splash on a new home in delightful but very dear Kilkenny.
But, astonishingly, there are no queues to take her money.
Local radio, KCLR96fm Sales Executive, Christine Power, armed with a passion to have her own home and a love of her adopted city, is embroiled in what is proving to be a daunting assignment.
The Dear Hunter, as we fondly dub her, could be the theme of Christine’s relentless crusade to purchase a property but after years of house hunting in a city to where she was brought by her family as a two year old, she has yet to fulfil the dream of being a home owner.
She has liaised with auctioneers, county council, bankers, property owners, anyone with a house for sale.
Christine’s mission that she accepted many moons ago is to spend €150,000 on a home, sweet home for herself and her pet dog.
She is determined that her effort will not prove to be any mission impossible.
Amazingly, her property trawl is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack as house prices continue to rocket amid the storm of a pandemic.
Although she has got a mortgage and has saved hard to boost her budget, the reality is that houses are proving too costly in Kilkenny City and environs.
SCRAPPING ON A WING AND A PRAYER
But our dedicated Dear Hunter has no intention of throwing in any towel in her fight for the dream home she craves.
She is a plucky woman, who, although scrapping on a wing and a prayer is determined to buy a home for herself and her buddy, Little Andy, a five-year old Chihuahua Terrier.
She is not angry, although she has had her disappointments and near misses in her trawl for a hacienda.
She views as positive that she has toiled relentlessly, paid her taxes over years of a colourful collection of jobs in Ireland and England and has a mortgage from Allied Irish Bank.
Christine is hoping for a happy ending to her home project in which spiralling house prices are giant obstacles and competition from investors makes life so difficult for first time home buyers in particular.
She spends countless hours online every day, trawling for ‘house for sale’ signs, hoping, praying that one day soon she will hit the jackpot that she describes
as her mission and dream to find her forever home for herself and Little Andy.
CHRISTINE HOLDS NO GRUDGES
She knows well that she would probably have her own home by now if she were what some would call a career social welfare recipient.
But she holds no grudges and understands that thousands of genuine people simply have no hope of having enough money to buy a family home.
That she was born into an army family may just have strengthened Christine’s resolve to fight on as the words surrender and retreat are not in her dictionary.
The Curragh Camp was her birthplace, an Irish Army base where her dad, Christopher Power from Jerpoint, Thomastown was a sergeant.
The Power family moved to Kilkenny in 1986. Sergeant Power was transferred to the local Stephens Barracks.
The then Baby Power went on to attend St John of God Primary School and the Presentation Convent Secondary.
She left school in 2nd Year and her first job was washing pots in a Chinese restaurant where she was promoted to waitress.
The world was young Christine’s oyster.
She worked in a hotel at the Curragh and in the Kilford Arms Restaurant, John Street, Kilkenny, before emigrating to explore London.
‘THE BEST PLACE I EVER WORKED IN’
Frank Prendergast, a son of Graignamanagh, gave her a job in Hendon and ‘home’ was a local pub which, she remembers had bars on its windows and her neighbours lived in high rise flats.
“It was the best place I ever worked in,” Christine told Kilkenny Press.
“It was rough and tumble but the people were lovely and Mr Prendergast gave me a great break in life.”
The setting was hardly picturesque but the hard graft honed her resilience for the battles of life, including purchasing a home.
She moved from the bar trade to the betting shop industry and then ran a mail order business in North Finchley.
Milton Keynes was to bring another change of career as she joined the advertising sales team in a local newspaper.
Life was exciting.
But the year 2013 proved to be a heart-breaker for the Power family.
Christine’s beloved mam, Lily Hipwell from the Curragh lost a brother and a sister inside a month.
Then Lily’s own health began to deteriorate.
LINTOWN IS HQ OF HOUSE PURCHASE CAMPAIGN
Christine returned home from England to be with her mam and moved in with her family in September of 2013.
The following October her mam was given six months to live.
It was a cruel blow.
Being a caring family stood to the Powers as they grieved.
Christine vowed that she would settle here to be close to her dad and siblings in the region.
She is now living with her dad in Lintown on the periphery of Kilkenny City.
That is the HQ of what she might term her Operation House Purchase.
Her resolve to buy was strengthened over seven years when she moved house seven times.
“It has always been my ambition to have my own front door,” said Christine. “I have been moving from pillar to post since I was 19.
“But I never imagined how difficult it could to buy your own gaff.”
Initially she was turned down for a mortgage by a local bank but was then approved by Kilkenny County Council.
The green light was turned off as there was no purchase in a stipulated six-month period.
A positive came last week when AIB approved a mortgage and plan is that Christine can somehow become a home owner inside six months.
PLAYING HOPSCOTCH IN A MINEFIELD
It would be apt if a deal for a home could be concluded by next Friday, March 19, her 39th birthday.
Christine won’t hold her breath. She knows she is playing hopscotch in a minefield.
She is aware that new builds in Carlow fetch €237,000 and shudders to think what the price will hit in Kilkenny.
She awaits details of a Government Scheme for house building.
She has fingers and toes crossed.
She has had house options in Ballyhale and Urlingford but is adamant that she wants to live near her dad and sister Louise to whom she is particularly close.
Her wish is for a two-bedroom house or ground house with garden for Little Andy.
Living close to her dad who has already agreed to look after Andy during Christine’s work hours is a must.
“Being close to family is vital as I continue my search and living near them will be wonderful as soon I get the home I so dearly want,” Christine said.
She said she is prepared to listen to advice from anyone, including local politicians, that might lead to her own patch.
Christine is resilient, resourceful and her credentials are impeccable.
It remains to be seen if her impressive curriculum vitae will lead to success in the minefield that is our local property market.
She deserves to achieve her aim.