Flying Solo: Two Irish Women Who Decided To Tick Off Big Life Milestones On Their Own

Buying a house? Having children? These women didn't want to wait for a partner to get sh*t done.

Aislinn O’Toole, 33, an account director for Presence PR, bought her first home this year and did it on her own

“I suppose buying my own home was a natural progression for me. I moved home a er a two year stint in Australia in 2013 thinking I would live with my parents for max two years, save a deposit and that would be it, I’d be on the property ladder! Five years later I’ve finally managed to get together a deposit, get mortgage approval and buy my first apartment. I was lucky that I was able to live at home with my parents in Dublin whilst saving, and even though I was paying rent at home, it certainly wasn’t as much as it would have been if I’d had to rent my own place.

My dad Greg is a mortgage broker and financial advisor and runs his business with his brother. I had decided last year that it was now or never in relation to applying. Property prices are flying up and I knew if I waited any longer, the rate I was saving would not be comparable to how fast prices are rising. I spoke to my dad and he got the ball rolling in relation to me applying. I suppose I was very lucky as he did most of the work for me, and has done a lot of the liaising for me with various different banks.

I think that it’s more difficult to get a mortgage as a single buyer due to the rules on borrowing. e whole process is very time consuming and involves a lot of paper work so I relied on Dad. He did say to me on numerous occasions that I was probably his most difficult client! He has certainly gone above and beyond in terms of what his usual remit as a mortgage broker would be. I’ll be forever indebted to him!

Saving up for a deposit was hard but would have been harder had I been living out of home. You are certainly far more budget conscious each month when you set yourself a certain target and need to be mindful about where your money is going. Saying that, I’ve an ASOS addiction so that was hard to kick to the kerb! I’m lucky as well that I wasn’t under any pressure to move out and so took it at a pace that was probably slower than most.

It took a while to settle on mortgage approval and my dad certainly made sure that I got the best deal. I bid on an apartment and now only six months later am I getting the keys. You don’t realise how long it actually takes with legalities. As I wasn’t under as much pressure to move out had I been renting elsewhere, I just decided on a set amount and put that into my savings each month.

I’m 33 and so all of my friends are in the same boat whether they’re married, single, buying or building their own houses. Family have been hugely supportive as well. It was a natural thing for me to move into my own place. Everyone is congratulating me on doing it on my own, so that’s always a nice feeling. I have however spent my life savings on this deposit so I’ll probably be sleeping on a mattress now for the next six months! I never thought about it too much until it happened and I do feel proud – and slightly terrified about the fact that I now am in debt for the next 30 years.”

Selina Morrin, 33, is a single mother by choice to four boys, three of whom she conceived via sperm donor

“I’m a single mother by choice to four gorgeous boys. My eldest is 7 and my youngest is 12 weeks. My eldest boy was conceived naturally and my identical twin boys and my last boy were conceived via the same donor sperm and are full biological brothers.

My journey to becoming a single mother by choice was five years after having my eldest child. I was an only child myself and I always said if I was lucky enough to become a mum I wanted my children to have siblings. I chose the donor route as opposed to going down the traditional route of having kids with a partner as I wanted more children and I didn’t particularly want to wait for the so-called ‘right person’ to come along and for it to then have maybe been too late. Becoming a mum was something I always dreamt of; I was never one to dream of the fairytale wedding. It was always baby grows and not wedding gowns.

In March 2015, I set out on my journey of going down the route of using donor sperm. I made contact with Waterstones Clinic in Waterford for my initial consultation and from that very first visit the support I received from my family was amazing. I was so amazed by the positive feedback I received from people regarding my choice to have more children. There is always going to be someone that disapproves of what you do, but it’s your choice not to allow others to dictate your choices in life. You have to follow your heart and do what is best for you.

Going down the route of donor conception involves a series of tests and scans and you also meet with a counsellor. Overall I didn’t find any stage invasive, though that’s just my personal experience; it may vary for each individual. It wasn’t a long, drawn out process in my case either. My initial consultation was March 2015 and my twins were born June 2016. I was very lucky I conceived in my first cycle of treatment. When I decided I wanted to have another baby after having the twins, I had a failed cycle and went straight back into another cycle where I was fortunate to conceive my last little boy in March 2018.

Throughout my whole journey I have had amazing support and even to this day my mum and grandparents are so supportive, I would be completely lost without them. As for my choice to parent alone compared to the so- called traditional family, I don’t feel my children are missing out on anything. In my opinion they’re probably luckier than most as they have their grandparents as well as their great-grandparents. They have both female and male influences in their lives.

As I opted to choose a non-anonymous donor, my children can make contact with the donor when they turn 18 if they wish. I chose a non-anonymous donor as I felt it wasn’t my right to take the choice away from my children if they wish to make contact or not.

I would consider myself to be quite an independent person so I haven’t really encountered any negatives of parenting alone. Yes, all the decisions are down to you and maybe at times it would be nice to have someone to bounce things off. But I guess if I’m totally honest I wouldn’t change a thing about parenting alone. For me being a mum is the most rewarding and amazing experience, everyday brings something new and it’s amazing to see that what you created is learning and exploring each day. Yes you can have stressful days, but don’t we experience stressful days without children? You learn to deal with it and move on. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone that is considering the journey of parenting alone, it is to go for it and follow your heart, you won’t regret it.”

The Going It Alone Factsheet

  • CSO figures released on International Women’s Day this year say there are now more independent single women living in Ireland than ever before
  • According to Central Bank, single borrowers, male and female, accounted for 56% of first time home buyers in 2016
  • The average first time buyer was 34 years old and needed at least a €50,000 deposit
  • According to the 2016 Census, single women made up 44.5% of one parent mothers
  • 1,500 Irish children have been conceived with help from the world’s largest sperm bank, according to RTE documentary Going It Alone
  • The cost of four straws from an open donor is 3,350 while the typical cost for a cycle of IVF is 4,250, according to

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