Emer McLysaght: My door-slamming, telly-blaring, prayer-screaming neighbours

There’s only so much door slamming and patio inquisitions one can take

My neighbours from hell moved out. They were a door-slamming, voice-raising, scooter-riding, telly-blaring, prayer-screaming family of wreck-the-heads.

Some clarifications: the scooter was ridden by the eldest child up and down the hard floors adjacent to our shared wall. When she wasn’t on the scooter, she was wearing a pair of those plastic princess high heels and doing similar laps. I understand that children need and deserve space to exist and play but coupled with her ear-piercing screams and her intense nosiness (more on that later), I found it difficult to warm to her.

The prayer screaming was a puzzler, but they regularly hosted between five and 50 people for a late-night religious ceremony including singing and occasionally drums. Far be it from me to engage in persecution, but at 11pm I just want to eat my night-time toast in peace.

I would usually have more pity for the parents than myself in a case like this but it's unlikely they could hear him over the incredible din they were making themselves

The door slamming took on two forms. Firstly, all their slow-closing fire safety hinges had obviously failed and they adopted a method of simply letting the doors slip from their fingers to close at speed every 30-50 seconds. Secondly, child number two, a toddler, liked to stand at the back door banging on the glass for what seemed like hours on end.


I would usually have more pity for the parents than myself in a case like this but it’s unlikely they could hear him over the incredible din they were making themselves. I often wondered how the slamming doors didn’t wake up child number three, a small baby, but luckily they never seemed to sleep so it wasn’t an issue.

I know, I know. I’m a crank. I should have more compassion for parents raising small children in an apartment during a pandemic but between the late-night masses and the fact that pandemic rules didn’t seem to apply to my neighbours, I found it difficult to muster much sympathy.

I did worry that my mild-moderate misophonia (a condition where certain noises elicit strong negative emotional or physiological responses) was to blame for my intolerance of what was going on next door, but last summer came vindication. A friend stayed in my apartment for a week to mind my cat while I was on a Government-sanctioned staycation. On my return I casually quizzed her on her experience with them over the glass partition of the patio.

“They’re very noisy, aren’t they?” she mused, before detailing how difficult it was to sit outside without being questioned to high heaven by the scooter-riding, high heel-wearing dictator from next door. She would lie in wait, all 3ft of her, for an unsuspecting neighbour to exit on to a patio or balcony before launching into a monologue about school/her brother/your appearance/total gibberish. It might sound cute as a one-off, but she was relentless.

Then one day a few months ago the cacophony ramped up a few notches. There was even more roaring and door slamming than usual and I braced myself for whatever celebration was going to bring an extra 75 people into our little shared corridor. But wait, what was that I saw through the peep hole? A couch? Suitcases? A bin liner full of plastic princess shoes? Hallelujah, they were moving out!

I greeted every crash and scream with a benign smile. I sighed blissfully and remembered every time I had considered leaving a packet of door stops on their mat but stopped myself because it would be simply too passive aggressive.

Such is the peace that I've started to worry though. Am I now the noisy neighbour?

Their departure was genuinely beneficial for my mental health. At the height of their pandemic pandemonium I had been like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, sunken-eyed and paranoid about what I was going to hear next. I did lodge a complaint after a particularly audacious gathering and felt tremendously torn between my lickarse brain and my anti-snitch heart. Nothing really changed though until they vacated the building and oh the joyous silence that remained. Sure, the new people who moved in appeared to be installing a new wooden floor slowly every evening over several weeks. Tap, tap, tap, tap. But it was music to my ears compared to the door slamming.

Such is the peace that I’ve started to worry though. Am I now the noisy neighbour? The family on the other side have a baby but I rarely hear a squeak from them. The crowd above sure do like to push their chairs around a curious amount but it’s nothing I can’t handle. What if my occasional ABBA-soundtracked cleaning or the wailing of the bloody cat is someone else’s misophonia trigger? The cat has taken to screaming at the hot press door and then casually walking away when it’s opened for her. I couldn’t live with myself if my rewatching all the best bits of Normal People while weeping was slowly driving an unknown foe bonkers.

I divulged my fears to a friend, and she told me to catch a hold of myself and enjoy the new tranquillity, so I’ll try that while lighting a candle for whoever has inherited the old gang from next door, and indeed anyone with noisy neighbours. Thoughts and prayers.