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An Pluiméir Ceolmhar Mudcat Meet Ireland 2004: Loughstock II (301* d) RE: Mudcat Meet Ireland 2004: Loughstock II 06 Jan 04

Beware, MudGuard, the last time I was in Norn Iron (admittedly five or six years ago), most of the cash machines even in central Belfast displayed a few dozen UK cash-card logos, but did not accept cards from other countries.

Moreover, even if you do persuade them to cough up, the poinds which they give you are issued by Norn Iron banks and would not be accepted anywhere else in the UK. So you will either have to overestimate your Sterling requirements before you travel in order to be sure you don't run dry, or else accept that any money which you succeed in withdrawing in NI will have to be spent on drink before you leave there. Tough choice, huh?

Ironies of history footnote: the banks which issue these strange notes include the banks based in the Republic, even though the latter cannot issue notes on their home territory (which is part of the Euro zone). My experience of trying to withdraw money as a Southern Irish Catholic with a Belgian bank card yielded enough material for a PhD thesis (well OK, at least a short song) on the echoes of history in daily life in Northern Ireland. E.g. the charming young shop assistant in Eason's bookshop (Eason's in Dublin was still in my lifetime a very "Protestant" shop) who didn't register my Dublin accent and kept asking about whether my card (from the capital of Europe) would work "on the mainland" (i.e. in Great Britain); or the fact that one of the banks which issue this strange money is the successor to the bank established by Daniel O'Connell ("Liberator" of the Catholic peasantry in the 19th Century); or the fact that this sweet girl, who doubtless is proud to be a British subject, checked all the tills in the shop and could only come up with about twenty pounds in notes which would be accepted on what she would regard as "the mainland".

But don't let my ramblings put anyone off, the half-dozen people whom I approached in shops and on the streets were all extremely helpful and made me feel really welcome in a city that I hadn't visited in the previous thirty years.

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