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Wednesday, February 13, 2002

On a trip to Ireland this weekend, it's clear that the euro seems to have taken over more or less completely. Shops, buses and bars no longer specify the price as euro - they just say, "3.75", or whatever, and it's assumed to be euro. The pound sign is almost nowhere to be seen, replaced by the euro sign (though they are confusingly alike).

The coins themselves seem to take a bit of getting used to. The 1, 2 and 5 and the 10, 20 and 50 are too similar to be told apart quickly, and it's very easy to confuse the 1 and 2 euro coins. Perhaps it gets easier with practice. Meanwhile, even at Dublin Airport, all the euros I found were Irish ones. But my mother, who was in Paris for the weekend, reports getting Dutch, Spanish and Finnish euro coins as well as French ones in her change. "It was great," she added, "to be able to go out and just spend the money in our pockets".

Meanwhile, watching an episode of children's sitcom Custer's Last Stand-up (about a teenage comedian) I noticed, puzzlingly, that although the script referred to euro, the notes held up were the old Irish notes. It took a while to realise that the episode must have been filmed before Christmas when the notes were not yet available.