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Bill Bonner: I have a dream…

…but also a wife, says Bill Bonner. And thankfully she saved him from a very costly mistake.

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A beautiful dream; a costly reality

We have our eye on another beautiful property in Ireland. We tried to convince our wife that we should buy the place. She rolled her eyes. We are presently staying in a cottage on an old estate while our house is undergoing repairs. The main house on the estate is avery impressive and handsome Georgian edifice, built soon after the American Revolution. There isalso a ruined sixth-century abbey, founded by a disciple of St.Carthage. Across the river, thereare more ruins, a tower and achurch. The abbey stands on what was once an island, now connected by dikes and causeways leading along the riverbank in bothdirections. There are two abandoned gate houses, flanking another entrance to the property, which is largely hidden from view. "It is a magnificent property," we summarised forElizabeth.

"Yes, but the last thing we need is another property and especially one that takes so much attention."

Later, when we relayed this to our local man-on-the-scene, autodidact philosopher and weekend sidekick, Ronan, he said: "Ah, that's the problem, the upkeep. It's all changed in my lifetime. It used to be that these big estates were ways to make money. They had dozens of workers. They raised cattle and sheep. And tenant farmers paid rents. They were what you call on Wall Street performing assets'. Now, they cost you money. The place must cost a fortune to maintain. The owner tries to sell it from time to time, but who can afford it?

"It's kind of funny for us little, local people, though. There was a time, not too long ago, when the lords of the manor had us waiting on them. Wewere at their beck and call. Wedoffed our caps when we saw them on the street and we knew our place. Now, the owners are desperate to earn an income so theycan pay the upkeep. The littlepeople are living in their comfortable little houses in the suburbs of Dublin. And the lords and ladies are rattling around in their huge, cold, old houses with the roofs ready to fall in on them.

"So they take in tour groups and weddings and even host concerts and that sort of thing. And now, the lady of the manor greets a group of wage-earners from Waterford or Cork and she serves them tea! I guess that's the way the world works. He that did ride so high doth lie so low What goes around comes around Or something like that."

That was enough for us. We gave up our plan of buying the big estate and becoming the Lord of the Manor. As Elizabeth said, "You can pay millions of dollars for the privilege of worrying about how to make this work and lose another couple of hundred thousand a year maintaining it. Or we can pay $150 a night and enjoy it all we want. And they'll even make the bed."

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