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First Communion spend falls to €713

THE average spend of a child's first Holy Communion has fallen to €713, down 4pc from last year.

However children received an average of €521 for their big day this year from generous family, friends and neighbours – a significant increase on €432 last year.

Parents cut back on a number of different areas this year.

They spent 20pc less on children's entertainment, with an average payout of €69, and also cut their spend on their child's outfit – an average of €163, down 9pc.

The only area that saw more cash spent was outfits for other family members, which rose by 8pc to €190.

Meanwhile, spending on the party, celebrations and food and drink fell by 4pc to €291.

The research was released by Ulster Bank.

It found that, with the children receiving €521, or 21pc more this year, parents spent an average of €177.

The most popular items bought with communion money were video games (42pc), followed by toys (37pc) and clothes (35pc). Just 10pc of children opted to save it for a rainy day instead.

Fewer parents took out a loan this year, with 88pc forking out from their own savings.

However, of the 5pc who did take out a loan, the average amount borrowed more than doubled, from €343 to €837.50.

The €744 spend compares with an average of €1,000 on Holy Communions in the boom years.

Communions were notorious during the Celtic Tiger for lavish spending on everything from helicopters to horse-drawn carriages.

Jim Ryan, MD of branch banking with Ulster Bank, said: "A first Holy Communion usually presents children with an opportunity to save or spend a significant amount of money for the first time."

The research shows that communicants are saving two thirds of the money, which is less than last year, when three quarters was saved, he said.

Mr Ryan added: "Receiving such a large sum is an opportunity to instill the importance of saving from an early age."

More than 50,000 children in Ireland made their Communion this year.

Grants for First Communion costs were scrapped this year.

The Department of Social Protection made the decision after a review that recommended exceptional needs payments (ENPs) should be paid in cases of financial need, not for particular occasions.