The uniquely Irish role of the Bean an Tí is to be revived for the hipster era at the new concept shared living building underway by Node at Dublin's FitzWilliam Square and set to open next month.
The US and London based group has just hired its first Irish Bean an Tí (or community curator as she will be known), who will be charged with taking care of the needs of more than 50 young adults on a daily basis.
The first lady of the Dublin house is 22-year-old Ava Kilmartin from Goatstown who says she will take her inspiration for the job partly from her most recent four-year role as events and marketing manager for the trendy city bar, nightclub and eaterie, House on Dublin's Leeson St. "The rest I'll be taking from my time in the Gaeltacht in my teenage years - weeks spent under the eye of a far more traditional type of Bean an Tí, who missed absolutely nothing!
"I'll have an office in the building but mostly I'll be hanging out in the common areas like the lounge, interacting and making myself available for anyone who needs help. Node is designed so people can come from another city, often from another country, and just plug into our city-based community straight away. It will be my job to help familiarise them with Dublin and the other people in the house."
Derived from the US-born model of shared living for adults and modeled on the managed and shared student buildings typical on US college compuses, Node's first Irish building will be run and furnished like those it already opened in New York, London and Toronto. The chain targets as residents young career progressive, tech savvy and more footloose adults who are fed up with the overpriced rental accommodation which all too often falls short of expectations.
The restored period Georgian house in Dublin will offer private one and two-bed self contained apartments blended with common shared areas like lounges, kitchens and garden spaces in which residents will mix together as a community. Rents in the order of €1,350 per person per month will include all bills and stylish furnishings akin to high-end New York Loft apartments. For that everyone gets their own bedrooms and bathroom and "proper" 600 sq ft to 700 sq ft apartment spaces.
The first lady of the Dublin house will also be responsible for organising events in the house and helping to steer involvement in the local community and charity work, an important tenet of Node's shared living ethos.
"I've been in touch with the Brookyln house curator for helpful hints and I've been putting together some lists of activities. I'm looking into stuff like movie nights, gin tasting or cheese tasting, gallery visits and cultural ideas, that sort of thing."
And while she won't be staying overnight, it will be Kilmartin's job, just like the traditional Bean an Tí, to ensure that residents are playing by the rules. In other Node houses around the world, the common areas generally go quiet at about 10pm and while visitors are ok and pets are sometimes considered on a case-by-case basis, it will be Kilmartin's job to ensure no one encroaches on anyone else.
The residents for the Dublin house (the organisation calls residents "Nodies") must apply for their places. Pairs of friends can apply together for the shared two-bed apartments or be matched by Node. Based on the communities in other Node houses it is likely that residents will be mostly be aged 20 to 35 and that about half will be from abroad. According to a recent report, the average age of a Node resident is 28 and he/she earns the equivalent of just over €35,000 per annum.
The Node Living organisation says: "Our communities are comprised of creatives, tech-savvies, and entrepreneurs who are shaping the world we live in."
Ava adds: "The great thing is that if you work for a multi national and spend a few years working in one city and then move on to another, you can plug in instantly to a Node shared-living community elsewhere in the world with the support that offers. So it's just as relevant for Irish people who might live here and then want to move to New York or London later on." The Node Living model purports to be of particular benefit to those arriving in a strange city.
Co-living is not unlike 'digs' of old in which single Irish professionals lived in the 1950s and 1960 in British cities; renting a room each, sharing common areas and being fed and minded by a 'Bean an Tí'.
But the building is self catering so Ava is unlikely to be dishing out early morning fry ups any time soon - unless it's part of a social mixing event that is.