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‘I walked away from a job in Italy due to the heat’

My Money

Archaeologist Enda O’Flaherty1
Archaeologist Enda O’Flaherty

Enda O’Flaherty has spent over 15 years working as an archaeologist in Ireland and abroad. He is from Galway originally and now lives in Cork.

His new book, Deserted Schoolhouses of Ireland, has just been published by Collins Press. The book gives an insight into the stories behind many of the abandoned schoolhouses that are now lying in ruins around parts of Ireland.

What’s the most important lesson about money which your career as an archaeologist has taught you?

That economies boom and bust, that the industry is precarious, and that in times of austerity, pressure is put on wage rates which you have to accommodate if you wish to survive.

What’s the best advice you ever got about money?

“Put something aside for the rainy day”. This was my father’s advice. It took a few years for me to reach a position where I could afford to put money away, but I appreciated the sense of security it provided. It’s still important to enjoy life though, and not to be afraid to spend some of your hard-earned cash on the experiences and people that make you happy.

What’s the most expensive country you ever visited?

Most certainly Norway. I believe I saw a cooked breakfast advertised outside a cafe priced at €32. It’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful country but it’s prohibitively expensive to visit.

What’s your favourite Irish coin?

The 1928 Irish coin set designed by Percy Metcalfe is iconic. The coins were well out of use by the time I was born, although many of the designs were reused when decimalisation was adopted. The ‘hen and chicks’ penny is probably the most attractive.

Apart from property, what’s the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

Apart from my home, I’ve never been in a position to spend a lot on one item. I’ve spent my money on travel and musical equipment, while driving a relatively reliable 15-year-old car.

What was your worst job?

In archaeology, I foolishly took three weeks’ work on an early medieval church site in Tuscany during July one very hot summer, thinking it would be magical. It touched 40 degrees that year and I couldn’t handle it. I walked away from the site after five days and hiked 20km to a train station to try and get home. I think it’s the only job I’ve walked away from.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I reckon my biggest financial mistake is ongoing: I have a habit of frivolous spending on coffees and prepared sandwiches. I hate to think of how much I’ve handed over through the years just to accommodate my laziness or unpreparedness.

What was your best financial killing?

Archaeologists are not in a position to make financial killings.

Are you better off than your parents?

I have far less financial responsibilities than my parents had at my age, and perhaps because of this, I have more expendable income, though I’m certain that my parents had far more valuable assets as they inherited the family farm.

If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?

Invest, donate and then enjoy it. I’d travel and make life comfortable for the people around me.

iTunes or Spotify?

Spotify and Apple Inc is not for me. Records are beautiful, especially through a good player with a nice valve amplifier.

Do you ever haggle?

Yes, from time to time, depending on the situation. I knocked €500 off the price of a second-hand car recently which was good going.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

A home, my health and my happiness. All other material possessions are just that.