Thursday 5 December 2019

My Money: I spent a Christmas in NY on a frugal budget but had a magical time


Anne Marie Ní Churreáin. Photo: Kimberly Buchheit
Anne Marie Ní Churreáin. Photo: Kimberly Buchheit

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet and writer from Cloich Cheann Fhaola in north-west Co Donegal. Her poems have been published in Ireland and abroad. She is the author of the highly acclaimed poetry collection Bloodroot.

Last August, she was announced as one of the first recipients of the Markievicz Award, a new bursary scheme for artists.


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

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Be assertive about when you need to be paid and when you are happy to forfeit payment. Save regularly. Try to live well on modest means.

The best advice you ever got about money?

My grandmother Mary Thaidg was a no-nonsense Donegal woman with a practical attitude towards money. She taught me to invest in quality.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

New York can be pricey - though I once spent Christmas there on a frugal budget and I had a magical time. Dublin, right now, is shockingly expensive. I was recently charged €7 to print a one-page travel document in Dublin Airport. Enough said.

What's your favourite saying about money?

Gheibheann pingin pingin eile.

What's your favourite Irish coin or note?

The Lady Lavery notes were truly elegant.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A painted cloth cover letterpress printed book produced by The Salvage Press. My car cost less!

What was your worst job?

I spent a year working as an events organiser for a drinks company. Every day was hell­. It was real 'smile while you dial' stuff. The job was not badly paid, but the corporate ethos scarred me for life.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

A pair of steel-cap, high-heel black leather boots with tassels.

What was your best financial killing?

I graduated from university debt-free and I resisted the pressure during the boom to buy a house which I couldn't afford. I count both these things as blessings.

Are you better off than your parents?

Earning a living in the arts is not easy. However, I got the education I dreamed of. I'm my own boss. I travel in a leisurely way for work that I love. I don't take any of that for granted.

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

I'd help create new studio space in Ireland for artists and writers. I'd also treat family and friends. I grew up in a family that fostered kids - so I'd like to support an organisation working with Irish care leavers [young people who are leaving or who have left the care system in Ireland].

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

No. There was at least one occasion when perhaps I should have. I'm probably superstitious about money.

iTunes or Spotify?

Records only. Right now I'm in front of an open fire listening to The Rostrevor Sessions by poet James Simmons.

What was the last thing you bought online?

I recently bought a poetry collection by Jane Clarke titled When the Tree Falls. I try to buy most of my books from independent stores like Books Upstairs or The Winding Stair. But there are occasions when needs must.

Would you buy Irish property now?

I'm always on the look-out for a cheap fixer-upper 'poetry hut' in Donegal.

Do you ever haggle?

Rightly or wrongly I almost always trust the price a person gives me.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Books. My tiny and cheap-to-run car (for work). My Chanel No 5 - one of the few luxury items I own.

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