independent

Sunday 22 July 2018

Six nights back in Kerry provides much needed tonic for the soul

Glanteenassig: One of the many beauty spots we enjoyed on our trip to Kerry
Glanteenassig: One of the many beauty spots we enjoyed on our trip to Kerry

David Looby

I needed that break! One week off and I'm suddenly a supercharged human being again (well, at least not wrecked tired!).

The good fortune of being in a full-time job with week long holidays to dwell on and enjoy throughout the year (tight budget allowing) was brought home to me last weekend during a chat with an friend who is self employed. Tom, (not real name), raised his eyebrows and gave a big: 'Haven't you the life' smile, when I told him that I was just back from six nights in Kerry with the Whirlwind Princess and The Little Fella. Bemoaning how little holidays he gets as a Government tax screwed middle income worker, Tom gawped when I announced that I had another few breaks lined up. See Tom's problem is that he pays so much in tax, childcare, health insurance, mortgage payments etc, that he has very little left over for holidays. He is one among the 17 per cent of the Irish self-employed workforce. Being taxed 52 per cent on top earnings doesn't help either. Self employed earners also lose out in tax credits compared to PAYE workers. Us PAYE employees get a €1,650 tax credit every year, a figure that fell from €1,830 in 2008.

If you are self-employed, you are not entitled to this credit but a €550 credit on "earned income" was introduced in recent times, offering a thorny olive branch to the beleaguered self employed worker. Most can't earn expenses and self-employed people are also treated differently to PAYE workers when it comes to social welfare entitlements. Owning your own business or working as a contractor is not easy and with the threat to eternal poverty hanging over you if things don't work out, more, clearly, needs to be done for the self employed among us. By paying PRSI Class S at 4 per cent, they are entitled to the State pension, maternity benefit and jobseeker's allowance. They will not, however, be able to claim jobseeker's benefit or sick pay.

Back to me and this PAYE worker had a great break in Kerry with the children.

For once the view of Mount Brandon wasn't obscured by a long, black cloud as we arrived into Tralee to the alarmed expression of their grandfather, who didn't realise (and wasn't told) that we were in town for a week.

The fridge was stocked to capacity for picnics as I was planning on not losing my shirt while touring around my beautiful home county. I imagine staying in Kerry with children and all associated holiday costs would normally cost between €1,200 and €2,600 depending on the time of year, but with accommodation looked after, we managed it for much less. As usual it took a few days to unwind but relax I did in every family friendly cafe and garden centre from Killarney to Dingle. Together, the children and I explored hitherto unventured mountain trails and forests, without the crowds you'd expect to find in these alpine-like beauty spots. The biggest outlay was a trip to the aquarium and even that wasn't too saucy. Getting back to Kerry was a tonic for the soul, drinking in the lakes of Killarney and the views from the Conor Pass. I enjoyed being back amid the familiar sights of roads I traversed for summers in my late teens delivering meats and cheeses and seeing Tralee, a place where I spent my teen years. I had to laugh when a Corkman gave out last week that people didn't speak Irish to him in a Dingle pub when I heard our native language being spoken in several premises in the town. Some self employed people just can't win!

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