Friday 19 July 2019

'I wish I'd sorted a pension when I was younger


Tonie Walsh, Life-long activist, club impresario and DJ.
Tonie Walsh, Life-long activist, club impresario and DJ.

Tonie Walsh is a Dublin DJ, journalist and activist. He has fought for gay rights and civil rights and is co-founder of the magazine, Gay Community News (GCN).

His one-man show, I am Tonie Walsh, runs in Dublin's Project Arts Centre from November 27 until December 1. The show tells the story of active citizenship - and of standing up for what is right. For tickets and information, visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as a DJ has taught you?

It was my career as a DJ that allowed me to indulge a huge amount of time in volunteerism and activism, for which I'm eternally grateful. All the same, working in the hospitality and entertainment industry is fraught and I wish I'd organised a pension when I was much younger.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

As a person of modest means, I try to avoid expensive countries. Most mainland European countries I visit seem cheaper and better value than Ireland, bar Britain which I don't consider European.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The millennium punt coin with the Broighter boat and two stars. I also adore all the old animal coins.

What was your worst job?

When I co-founded GCN in 1988, our publishing company, the National LGBT Federation, was so broke we were compelled to go out and hawk the newspaper for 10p. It was an uphill struggle and I hated doing it.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Not getting out of the Dublin club scene earlier. I exited on the cusp of the recession - after burning a hole in my pocket with some gigs that went spectacularly wrong.

What was your best financial killing?

I've never been one to view my projects as potential slot machines. Anything that allows me to pay the bills, buy some art and have two significant holidays per year is a win for me.

Are you better off than your parents?

My parents had seven children and two properties. I've neither children nor property. I've less savings than my parents, but more leisure time - and I find that priceless.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

I'd tell no-one. Then over time, I'd invest 50pc in the creative and business projects of my nearest and dearest, sort out a nice gaff with a garden, and organise the mother of all 60th birthdays parties.

Your favourite song about money?

It has to be Money as sung by Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli in the Bob Fosse film, Cabaret.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

Once, I had to use my travel insurance to claim for flights missed due to illness.

Would you buy Irish property now?

Wherever I've lived in Ireland and abroad, I've always rented and have been lucky enough with landlords that allowed me invest in each unfurnished property as a long-term home.

Irish property is overpriced and overvalued and our urban infrastructure sucks - so much so that I'm planning to move abroad within the next two years.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

My mother, Sylvia, always advised me to open a credit union account and I'm sorry it took so long. I forget about what's going in, large or small, to my savings account. It's also got to be the easiest and cheapest way to borrow money.

If you could design your own euro note, what image would you put on it?

I'd love to see a series of European flora and fauna on our euro notes, like the Dutch 50 guilder note with the sunflower and bee.

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