'Our pricy sofa went to a woman with baby twins'
Dublin-born author Felicity Hayes-McCoy has written for radio, television, music theatre, print and digital media. She and her husband, the English opera director Wilf Judd, divide their life and work between a flat in inner city London and a stone house in the West Kerry Gaeltacht.
Her book Dingle and its Hinterland - People, Places and Heritage has just been published by Collins Press (www.collinspress.ie).
What's the most important lesson about money which your career as a writer has taught you?
When you're a freelancer, you can't afford to run up debts. But then, this is something I'd learned from my parents anyway - and it's a rule I've always stuck to.
What's your favourite song about money?
I remember being blown away when I first saw Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey's performance of Money Makes the World Go Round in the film Cabaret. I saw it again recently on television and it hadn't lost its bite.
Where do you consider more expensive to live - London or Dingle?
In Ireland, we grow a lot of our own food. However, in London, our tiny flat doesn't have a garden. So that makes a difference. Life in both places is mostly about work - but in London, we go to the cinema and art exhibitions more frequently, which can make it the more expensive place to be. Dingle has a wonderful independent cinema that's very good value but, on the other hand, you can get an excellent coffee in a great venue in central London for less than €1.20. You'd be hard-pressed to find that in Ireland!
What's your favourite saying about money?
'When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.' That saying is attributed to the Native American Chief Seattle. It's echoed in the Irish saying 'Is fearr an sláinte ná na táinte' - health is better than wealth.
What's your favourite Irish coin?
I still love the coins chosen, after an international design competition, by the Senate committee chaired by WB Yeats in 1927. It was won by the English artist Percy Metcalfe and his original designs were modified when the coins came to be made. They showed images of Irish animals and they're all beautiful but, as a child, I adored the hare on the threepenny piece.
Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?
In terms of its cost at the time, a sofa that my husband and I commissioned when we lived in an Edwardian house in London. When we moved to a flat, it was too big - so it went to a woman who'd just had twins and needed someplace to crash downstairs with the babies when they kept her household awake at night.
What was your worst job?
I've been a professional writer since I attended The Drama Studio in London after graduating from UCD, so for years my work as an actress fed into my writing, and vice versa. I did have a stint selling advertising space in a call centre just after I left the studio, and that was pretty awful. It gave me material for the first radio play I sold to the BBC though.
Have you ever made an insurance claim?
Only once. When my husband and I were first married, we had a leak in the roof, for which we were responsible because we lived upstairs. For some reason there was no visible effect in our flat, and it wasn't until the timid, elderly lady below us showed us the damp in her bedroom that we found she'd been suffering for weeks. By then the repair work was substantial, but our insurance covered the full cost.
Would you buy Irish property now?
Our main criterion when buying property has been to find places to live and work that were suitable at the time. Right now, what we have works perfectly, so the question doesn't arise.
Cash or card?
Half and half - and I always pay off the credit card bills every month. Childhood lessons run deep!
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