THREE Cork siblings have joined forces in a novel initiative to keep themselves busing during current Level 5 restrictions.
Ballinadee siblings Anna, Thomas, and Rachel McCarthy have bought a second-half bus with the aim of renovating it and turning it into an Airbnb by next May.
It is not the first time the family have worked together to achieve a goal. Earlier this year, they raised tens of thousands of euro for Oieta House, following the tragic death of their father Paddy McCarthy in May.
“It is the power of family," Rachel told The Echo. "The fundraiser was a way of helping us cope.”
Thomas settled on their new project after seeing a friend of his complete a similar project in Dingle.
“My friend and her mother embarked on a similar mission and it has proved a huge success," he said. "Their final finish was stunning and it prompted me to go down a similar route."
Thomas and his two sisters wanted a real challenge, so they decided to purchase a double-decker bus with the aim of turning it into a two-storey dwelling.
Thomas spotted a gap in the market to provide novel places for guests during their holidays. Thomas believes their location in Ballinadee provides guests with an ideal base.
“We picked a double-decker to renovate as we wanted to create more space so we can attract more customers," he said. "We also have a farm here which means we have space.
"There has been a huge surge in demand for Airbnbs in recent years. Internal tourism has really taken off and we hope to capitalise on that growing market.
"We are in an ideal location. We have lots of beaches near us. We are near Kinsale, Courtmacsherry, West Cork and the city. Everything is within a very easy drive. The renovated bus will also be situated in a picturesque location. They will be looking into a valley that is beautiful.”
As well as hopefully being a successful venture, the project is also keeping Thomas and his older sister Anna busy during Covid-19.
“We are both out of work currently due to Covid, so it has kept us busy," he said. "My younger sister is in college and she helps us when she can. We are working away at it on a daily basis. We are all doing various bits as we are fairly hands with tools.
"The three of us being involved has saved a lot of cost labour wise. Neighbours have also been a great help. Our aim is to have everything ready for May 2021. This is the first time we as a family have been all together for such a long period of time. We decided to create a project we could do and enjoy together.”
Once they had the idea, the next step was to spring into action and locate a second-hand bus. After pursuing all their options online and shopping with a limited budget, they were fortunate to locate an ideal bus very close to home.
“We were on the various websites looking for a second-hand double-decker," Thomas explained. "They were hard to find and very expensive. I decided to ring around locally and I got in contact with Donal from Ovens Coaches. He was a great help. As luck would have it, he was selling at a very reasonable price. It was the ideal fit for us."
Their next step in the journey is to begin the renovation work on the bus. The McCarthy family has great ideas for their exciting project. There is still a lot of work to be done however, acknowledged Thomas.
“We will have to tile it and insulate it," he said. "The kitchen units will have to be installed. We will have to plumb it and connect the electricity. We have a budget of €7,000 which we hope to come in under if possible. A lot of the work needed to be done is cosmetic, fortunately.
"Downstairs will be an open plan which will include a dining room and kitchen. Upstairs then will have two bedrooms, a lounge area, and a pull-out couch. We will be able to sleep six people at any given time. Down the line, we hope to invest in a hot tub.
"All going well, it will be open for business on May 1st, which will be just ahead of the busy summer season.”