The cheap seats

 

BARGAINS:Whether it's at the cinema or the theatre, in a cafe, the train or any other kind of seat, it pays to plan ahead, writes SIMON TIERNEY

We pay a lot of money to sit on seats everyday. Different types of seats.

Cinema seats, cafe seats, theatre seats, a seat in the hairdressers and many others. With a little shrewd planning, these seats do not need to be expensive. Firstly, price comparison is essential before you purchase a seat for anything. Secondly, always look for off-peak services as these are usually cheaper. Thirdly, always read the small print. You may be missing something.

Theatre

The Belltable (69 O’Connell St, Limerick, tel: 061-319 866) consistently offers the cheapest seats for quality theatre in Ireland. Their cheapest adult seats for the touring production of Port Authority by Conor McPherson is €12.50, while the same production was €15-€20 in the Everyman Palace (15 MacCurtain St, Cork City, Co Cork, tel: 021-450 1673).

Matinees are often the cheapest. An adult matinee in the Abbey Theatre (Lower Abbey St, Dublin 1, tel: 01-878 7222) will save you €5 on the cheapest regular adult ticket price (€25). There are also a limited number of €13 tickets available for each production. The best value for quality theatre in Dublin is Project Arts Centre (39 East Essex St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, tel: 01-881 9613) whose adult tickets are generally under €20. If you’re in Galway, the Town Hall Theatre (Courthouse Sq, Galway, tel: 091-569 777) has a great programme with adult tickets often from €15-€18 (occasionally more expensive depending on the performing company).

Classes

The best-value French classes take place in the Alliance Française Cork (Enterprise House, 2nd Floor, 36 Mary St, Cork, tel:021-431 0677). The next 15-week course (one class per week) begins on January 28th, 2013, and costs €200 (€13.30 per class), if booked before January 12th.

Bridge Mills Galway Language Centre (The Bridge Mills, Galway City, Co Galway, tel: 091-566 468) is offering eight-week courses (one class per week) in Portuguese, Polish, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and German, beginning again in January 2013, for €130. As with most classes, the longer the course, the better value it becomes. Art in Galway ( artingalway.com) offers some of the most competitive rates with their 10-week oil painting course (one two-hour class per week) for €175. Next term begins on January 7th.

In Dublin, things are more expensive. Among the best value is Art Classes Ireland (The Studio, 17 Aideen Avenue, Terenure, Dublin 6, tel: 01-490 8403) who offer their six-week oil painting course, with artist Kevin McSherry, for €175.00.

Brunch

Brunch is a weekend treat. But where are the best-value seats? The most important thing to be aware of on a brunch menu is whether the Full Irish includes tea and toast.

One of the best-value breakfast seats can be found in Aileen’s Art of Coffee (5 Stockwell St, Drogheda, Co Louth) where the all-day Full Irish will set you back €7.95 (including tea and toast). All produce is butcher supplied and locally sourced.

One of the best spots in Dublin is The Paris Bakery (18-19 Moore St, Dublin 1, tel: 01-804 4112) which offers a Full Irish for €6.50 (excluding tea/coffee). The added bonus is the French waiting staff and fantastic boulangerie, which adds to the authentic Parisian experience.

For €8.25 you can get the Full Irish in The Home Plate (13 Mary St, Galway City, Co Galway, tel: 091-561 475) and this includes tea/coffee.

For an alternative to the Full Irish, try the beautifully decorated Liberty Grill (32 Washington St, Cork City, Co Cork, tel: 021-427 1049), which offers an Eggs Benedict for €6.55.

Transport

Aer Lingus ( aerlingus.com) usually operates 21 flights from Dublin to London every day. That’s a lot of choice. The cheapest seats can often be found on the Dublin to London-Southend route, operated by Aer Lingus Regional, with one-way seats from €25.99. What are the other options? For consistently low prices, it has to be Sail and Rail with Stena Line and Virgin/Arriva Trains ( stenaline.ie), which will take you from Dublin to London’s Euston Station. The advance single adult fare is €45. There are no extra baggage charges. On the downside the journey takes between nine and 12 hours.

With buses, it can depend on the route, so research is essential. For example, JJ Kavanagh Sons ( jjkavanagh.ie) standard open adult return ticket, from Dublin to Limerick, will cost you €15, while Bus Éireann ( buseireann.ie) will set you back €24 for the same ticket type. On the other hand, a Bus Éireann open return seat from Dublin to Waterford will cost slightly less than Kavanagh’s. To avail of the cheapest seats on Dublin Bus, Luas and Dart services, check out the Leap Card ( leapcard.ie). Top-up your card with credit (no more rummaging for change) and travel 4-7 stages on the bus for €1.70 compared to €1.90 with a cash fare. The Luas is up to 17 per cent cheaper and the Dart and Commuter Rail is up to 18 per cent cheaper than single tickets from ticket machines with the Leap Card. It all adds up.

Hair and beauty

Being a man, I still struggle to understand the “blow dry”. Anyhow, they seem to be very popular. Among the cheapest in the country is the College of Hairdressing Connaught (Kiltartan House, Forster St, Galway City, Co Galway 1 Moneen Industrial Estate, Castlebar, Co Mayo, tel: 091- 563 932/094-904 4014) where their supervised trainees will blow-dry your hair for just €8. One of the lowest prices in Dublin is €12/14/18 (short/long/curly) and can be found at Soft Touch Hair and Beauty Studio (2 Mornington Park, Malahide Rd, Dublin 5, tel: 01-831 1911). Curly-haired people get a tough time, price wise. Go figure.

If you’re in Cork, head to Picasso House of Colour (5 Liberty St, Cork City, Co Cork, tel: 021-427 0990) where a blow dry will set you back €10. Koreana Hairdressers on Parnell Street in Dublin do blowdries for as little as a tenner tel: 01-8735290

For a good value men’s dry cut in Dublin, pop down to Sam’s Barbers, who offer the service for €8 every Monday and Tuesday in their Prussia Street branch (Park Shopping Centre, Prussia Street, Dublin 7, tel: 01-838 7034).

Coffee

Don’t worry, I’ll steer clear of Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, which often retails at around €38 a cup. One of the best prices for a coffee can be found in Coffee To Get Her (11-12 South Richmond St, Portobello, Dublin 2). A small Americano costs €1.80 and is made from the Sicilian Moak Servito blend. This place is well worth a visit.

Cafe Gusto’s (3 Washington St The Boardwalk, Lapps Quay, Cork City, Co Cork, tel: 021-425 4446), master baristas will brew you their 100 per cent Arabica bean Americano for €1.90.

An Americano costs €2 in Cafe Renzo (32 Eyre St, Galway City, Co Galway, tel: 091-568 888), with no extra charge for a double shot (nice touch). The cafe hosts regular exhibitions and has a little bookshop onsite. Common Grounds Cafe (12-24 University Avenue, Belfast) gives their profits to humanitarian projects in the developing world. A regular fair trade filter coffee is £1.75.

Cinema

Movie Junction (Fota Retail Park, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, moviejunction.ie) is one of Ireland’s few drive-in cinemas and offers some of the best value seats in the country.

Car entry for a couple is €16. Family/friends car entry is just €20 (three or more people). This works out at €5 each if you are a group of four. Children aged seven and under go free. The advantage here is that these prices are the same every day.

Galway’s cheapest seat can be found in the Eye Cinema (Wellpark Retail Park, Wellpark, Galway City, Co Galway, tel: 091-780 000, eyecinema.ie), where a standard adult ticket costs €7.20, Monday to Thursday. In Dublin, the Screen Cinema (D’Olier Street, Dublin 2, tel: 1520-927 005, screencinema.ie) offers the best peak adult seat price at €8.60.

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