Shop talk: ‘We’ve done well out of the euro’
Dublin city centre businesses give a positive thumbs up to the impact of the currency
Alan Campbell with an Irish punt in The Bankers Bar: “People are happier to part with their money when they know exactly what things cost. It’s much less hassle.”
Since the euro was introduced to Ireland, Alan Campbell has watched the tourist demographic shift from mainly British visitors “flying in for a cheap weekend” to large numbers of European travellers.
As owner of The Bankers Bar on Trinity Street, Mr Campbell recalls the “panic” surrounding Ireland’s transition from the punt to the euro.
“Especially because the UK wasn’t coming with us, it felt like a big risk,” Mr Campbell said. “But it was worth it.”
Currencies of the world are taped to the shelves of the pub like wallpaper. Next to a row of gins, is an old Irish punt.
“We’ve done well out of the euro,” Mr Campbell said. “Dublin is expensive, but people are happier to part with their money when they know exactly what things cost. It’s much less hassle.”
The new currency introduced in 2002 opened up new suppliers to Stock Design in Dublin.
“We’re buying glassware direct from the factories in Italy,” said Brendan Fagan who has been running his kitchenware business on King Street for the last 45 years.
“Before the euro we used to buy a lot from Britain, but now we’ve increased what we get from Europe. I’m concentrating on Europe now, especially since Brexit.”
Stock still buy from about 100 UK suppliers, as well as 50 across Europe and a further 25 in Ireland.
Mr Fagan has his reservations about the single currency, believing the “ECB [European Central Bank] has a lot to answer for”, in terms of the global recession.
“Their interest rates nearly destroyed Europe with their paranoia about curbing inflation.” Putting the recession aside, he said: “Europe has been very good for Ireland.”
Over at the Seasons of Ireland tourist shop on Grafton Street, manager Yvonne Barnes believes the euro has transformed Ireland from a “rock in the Atlantic” to a vibrant tourist hub.
Having lived in France, Italy and Greece before the introduction of the new currency, Ms Barnes does not miss the stress of “converting everything back to pounds” to compare prices.
“It’s so much more relaxing now,” she said. “I still go back and forth to Italy, so the euro is brilliant for that. The tourists coming here are not stressed when they’re buying things either. I think we need Europe and the euro.”
Down the street at Brown Thomas, James Kearns (75) is manning the door as tourists file past him into the department store.
“It’s great to see tourists come in and be able to spend their money easily. It wasn’t always like this.”
He recalls an old RTÉ programme that aired before the single currency, following a reporter’s travels across Europe.
“The man had to change his money at every border,” Mr Kearns said. “It just shows you how easy it is when you have the euro. We’ve done well out of the euro and hopefully in the future we will continue to see the benefits.”