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Festival on the money as Cats laugh in face of recession

Forget the euro -- let's all use Marbles instead! It's going to be the strongest European currency this weekend . . . well, in Kilkenny, the Marble City at any rate.

The 'Marble' money was launched yesterday ahead of the Kilkenomics Festival in the city, which merges the unlikely bedfellows of economics and comedy. So while doom and gloom may be all the rage, now it's time to have a good laugh at it all.

Top comedians such as Des Bishop and Karl Spain, along with economic experts from home and abroad, including the former Argentinian economy minister Martin Lousteau and Irish Independent columnist David McWilliams, will entertain and inform at 24 events in venues all over Kilkenny city.

Mr McWilliams showed off the new money after he joined forces with Kilkenny Cat Laughs festival organiser Richard Cooke to organise the four-day event, which starts tomorrow.

"Money is serious. Comedy is funny. This will be seriously useful. And seriously funny, too," organisers say.

For every €20 exchanged at the festival, €22 Marbles will be handed out for use in venues throughout the city. Festivalgoers can exchange any remaining Marbles for euro at the end of the event.

Well-known Kilkenny personalities such as publican Eamon Langton and hurling legend Henry Shefflin are the faces of the new Marble notes.

For the price of a €100 ticket, punters can attend five talks or stand-up shows, they will receive a book signed by one of the writers attending the event and free admittance to the late-night comedy club.

Mr McWilliams insists there are alternatives to our budget woes. "It's never too late to renegotiate the bank bailout," he said, adding that ordinary people were paying for the mistakes of wealthy people who "gambled" on banks.

"What's happening now and always happens in a crisis in Ireland is the insiders set the policy and outsiders pay the bill. In the '50s we'd a big crisis and 500,000 people were forced to emigrate -- they're the outsiders -- out of sight, out of mind."

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