Business Personal Finance

Saturday 22 July 2017

Money Talks: 'As a child, even my mother used to borrow from me sometimes'

Francis Brennan
Francis Brennan
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

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!

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