Business Personal Finance

Sunday 15 September 2019

My Money: 'I was wealthiest kid in parish after circus prize draw'


Noel Cunningham
Noel Cunningham

Noel Cunningham is TV3's showbiz guru and general manager of Harvey's Point Hotel in Donegal. Cunningham, who is from Kilcar in Donegal, is well-known from TV3's Ireland AM. He has also made appearances on TV3's Celebrity Family Fortunes, Celebrity Come Dine with Me: Ireland, and Ultimate Debutante.

Cunningham has worked in hotels in Ireland and Britain since he left school. For more information on Harvey's Point Hotel, which opened a new corporate garden suite earlier this summer, visit

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

Save for the rainy day. I lived in south-east Asia and the Chinese always advise to respect money. Many people, stars included, learned in recent years that good times can end.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

I always think you pay for what you get. Paris and Iceland may have shocked with certain prices but all considered, I could accept that the items paid for were value for money. Around €20 for a beer in Iceland was a shock though.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The Irish half crown. This was a gift from my Auntie Nora on First Holy Communion Day. It was large and shiny with a horse motif - I remember it so well, the joy!

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

A pair of bespoke Barker shoes. I bought them 40 years ago for stg£80 - a fortune back then. I'm still wearing them. Buy quality.

What was your worst job?

Genuinely none. I made the most of the good and the bad along the way and nobody really loves every job. Overall, I have positive memories of all my jobs.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Not investing in insurance policies earlier in life.

What was your best financial killing?

Winning 10 shillings at the circus prize draw when the circus visited Killybegs almost 60 years ago. I was the wealthiest kid in the parish.

Are you better off than your parents?

My parents had faith, were self sufficient and made the most of challenging times. We wanted for nothing. We were cash-poor, but rich in our upbringing - because of our family, friends and wonderful carefree country life by the sea in Donegal.

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

I would look after friends and family. I'd also set up an education foundation for children whose future is in jeopardy because of circumstances not of their making.

Your favourite song about money?

I loved the movie Cabaret with Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles and also starring Joel Grey. Money Money was the duet they sang. It's a great tune with great words.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

No - my dad called it unlucky money.

ITunes or Spotify? Or CDs and records?

iTunes - I'm the coolest old fellow around!

What was the last thing you bought online?

I hate online. I prefer the magic of human contact. A smile and help in a store is priceless.

Would you buy Irish property now?

No. Firstly, I don't need to. Secondly, I fear another 'burst bubble' situation.

Do you ever haggle?

Yes, in Morocco and Egypt - for fun more than anything.

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

Buy only when you can afford to pay for it and avoid hire purchase. This advice was from my Dad - he was wise.

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