Money Talks: 'As a child, even my mother used to borrow from me sometimes'
The colourful hotelier and TV personality Francis Brennan runs the five-star Park Hotel Kenmare in Kerry with his brother, John. Francis is well-known for presenting the RTE 1 series 'At Your Service' as well as 'Francis Brennan's Grand Tour', where he takes holidaymakers on a two-week vacation to a mystery destination. Dubliner Brennan now lives in Tahilla, Co Kerry.
What is the most important lesson about money that your career as a hotelier has taught you?
I was always good with money [before my hotel career] as I always knew how to handle it. As a child, I used to sell Christmas logs. These were wooden logs sold for use as a centrepiece for a table - with holly and snow attached. I made IR£400 from selling logs one Christmas. My mother even used to borrow from me sometimes!
What's your favourite coin?
The old British 'thrupenny' with the flat edges - I like the look of it and the way the edges were done.
What's the most expensive country you have ever visited?
Monaco is always expensive. I was at a travel and tourism conference in Monaco last year. I paid €42 for a small sandwich and a cup of tea.
Are you better off than your parents?
Yes - but I have more worries. Life is much more complex today than it was in my parents' time. They lived a simpler lifestyle. So I think my parents were better off in mind and body - but not financially.
Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
A Mercedes-Benz E-Class. I bought one in 1982 and it cost me IR£72,000. I still can't believe the price of it - even now. Mind you, I drove it for 12 years and it never stopped.
What was your worst job?
When I was in college, I worked in a factory in England where I spent 10 weeks pushing and shoving peas onto lorries. After those 10 weeks, I vowed never to work in a factory again.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
Getting involved in tax-driven schemes for offices, car parks and hotels before the recession. I got burned in the recession as a result. However, I survived it and I hold no animosity towards the recession. I just get on with it.
What was your best financial killing?
I have never made a financial killing. Everything I have I worked hard for. I bought a home in Sligo and I lived there for 12 years - but I sold that property for less than I bought it for.
Do you use any money-saving apps?
I use the Skyscanner app - to check the best airfares.
Android or iPhone?
I have an iPhone 5.
Do you know how much is in your current account?
I don't. I only know how much is in my current account when I get my statement - which is once a month. I have never done online banking - I have security concerns about it.
Have you ever made an insurance claim?
It's hard to avoid claims in the hotel business. A tree hit the spa in the Park Hotel Kenmare a few years ago - we made a claim after that. We are in the midst of a major flood in the hotel at the moment - we have had to close four bedrooms. So we will need to make a claim for that too.
Have you ever switched utility provider?
Yes, I switched from ESB to SSE Airtricity recently.
iTunes or Spotify?
iTunes - I download music regularly on it. I'm on Spotify too but only the free version.
What was the last thing you bought online?
A book about apples and orchards as a Christmas gift for my brother Damien, who runs the Yeats Experience meals and evenings in Sligo.
Do you have a mortgage? Is it fixed, variable or tracker
I have a variable mortgage.
Would you buy Irish property now?
No - I have had my fill of Irish property!
Cash or card?
I always have cash but I use cards just as much.
Do you ever haggle?
I do, of course. Every businessman will haggle. There's nothing more exciting than having a haggle in Monaco - to try and get a few cents off the price!
Sunday Indo Business