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‘I have lost money on all my albums. I would be a chief financial officer’s worst nightmare, if I had one’

Me & My Money: Mike Hanrahan of Stockton’s Wing

Mike Hanrahan, of Stockton’s Wing is also a senior fellow at Trinity College Dublin’s Global Brain Health Institute. He is taking part in the university’s Creative Brain Week, March 4th-9th, where he will outline a practical musical journey exploring how music can articulate the life of someone living with a diagnosis of dementia.

Are you a saver or a spender?

Until last year, I was a spender. I have been self-employed most of my working life, so I am conditioned to worry, chase, spend and then worry again. I finally received a salary last year and discovered I had extra money, so I started saving. But I am now back self-employed, so I am not sure how safe the savings are.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, for certain electronic items I know nothing about. It takes me ages reading reviews, annoying friends and hovering before deciding.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I bought a new car once for €26,000 and for 10 years I drove it into the ground. I still remember its first scratch. It haunts me. Never again.


What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

My beautiful Lowden guitar. I bought it for a fortune in 1982 – all of IR£285. It is now priceless, and it has been with me for every song I have written since. I should say it has aged beautifully – just like its owner!

How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

I learned many new digital skills during Covid, recording, animation, video creation and streaming, so my go-to place was Thomann for all electronic gear. The joy of the van arriving was a highlight of my week.

Do you haggle over prices?

I do, but truthfully I fall at the first look of disbelief and pay over, just short of apologising for even thinking about the haggle.

How did the Covid-19 crisis change your spending habits?

I started growing things, vegetables, lots of herbs, and I delved into food preservation, so I stocked up on preserving jars. My cupboard quickly filled with stuff I would never get to use so Christmas became a wonderful time for giving. Even if they did not want a jar of pickled beetroot, they got one with the card.

Do you invest in shares?

God, no. I put €1 each way on a horse at the Grand National every year. That is the extent of my investment portfolio.

Cash or card?

I have become the Tap Man. No guilt at point of tap.

What was the last thing you bought and was its good value for money?

The last thing I bought was a new pedal for my guitar and I love it. Total value for money.

Ronnie Drew looked at me in disbelief and advised: ‘Let that be your last gamble, Mike, because I can guarantee you it only goes downhill after this’

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

I am not a saver, although I did the Bertie Ahern government savings scheme [SSIA] in 2004-2005 and spent all the money on a three-month cookery course at Ballymaloe. Best money I ever spent. It changed my life.

Have you ever lost money?

We lost money on every album Stockton’s Wing ever made, and I have lost money on all my solo albums, on tours and several music projects, but I never cry about the loss. I love music, it is what I love to do, and money has never had a say in my pursuit of creative dreams. I would be a chief financial officer’s worst nightmare. If I had one.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I do not gamble. Ronnie Drew gave me advice one time when I picked the same set of horses for something called a Yankee. We were in London watching the Cheltenham races on the TV. They all came in but I had no idea I did the same ones twice. Ronnie looked at me in disbelief and advised: “Let that be your last gamble, Mike, because I can guarantee you it only goes downhill after this.”

Is money important to you?

Money is important to live and it allows me to enjoy things in life but I learned how to survive on very little. It is, therefore, not the most important thing in my life, but I love getting paid after the gig.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €74.30 in my pocket. It has been there for about three days.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea