Date Published: 24-Jan-2013
BY DENISE McNAMARA
“Apparently the key to success is to fail dramatically,” observes Frank Cronin wryly on his video as he rejoices in the thrill of being interviewed on radio after going for a dip in Salthill during a break in exams.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the 30-year-old student of psychology and Spanish who has achieved a degree of notoriety at NUI Galway for spurning the comforts of a shared house for a clandestine tent by the river on the college campus.
What started out as a challenge for a week will culminate in a performance at the 13th annual NUIG arts festival, Múscailt.
Frank will appear on stage with his trusty house, the two-man tent that has been his home in the wilds of Newcastle since last September.
The half-hour show will feature excerpts from the videos he has created on his experiences camping while studying which have been a hit on his youtube channel called glowpunk.
This somewhat unorthodox journey began out of purely practical reasons, explains Frank. Zero cash.
“I was stone broke. My own family had their own financial things going on. I could have borrowed the money but I thought it was more of a life journey if I did it myself. A friend gave me the tent for my 30th birthday because he knew I was used to the outdoors with the army and I came from a family that used to go camping.
“I already had my youtube channel. This was also a way to keep it going. I could film my experiences of living in a tent while studying. It was a nice, linear solution to a really simple problem.”
Where he decided to pitch his tent on the sprawling campus is a top class secret, but he believes the authorities have no interest in moving him on. Some of his tutors are even fans of his videos. The first one attracted 12,000 views. He currently has 900 followers on Twitter.
These last few nights have been on the cold side, with temperatures plummeting to well below freezing. But Frank cheerfully takes in his surroundings.
“I have a comfy bed, I’m on a blow up mattress, I’m in two sleeping bags, one is from the 1970s, it’s probably full of asbestos. If I get cold I get up at night and walk around, put on more layers. I wear a hoodie, a balaclava. I have it all figured out at this point.”
His youtube site features constant ads and pleas for the public to subscribe in order to fund his tuition. The Westport company Portwest even sponsored him for wet gear.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.