My Money: ‘I remember only having 20p. I bought a carrot. I still don’t know what I was going to make with it’

The Dry actress Pom Boyd

Gabrielle Monaghan

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Pom Boyd is an award-winning actor, writer and theatre-maker who is currently featuring in two high-profile TV dramadies. She plays a formidable B&B landlady in Bodkin – the Netflix show that counts Barack and Michelle Obama as executive producers – and has a scene-stealing lead role in The Dry as a mother to a daughter struggling to recover from alcohol addiction. Boyd also featured in the comedy series Frank of Ireland, alongside Domhnall, Brendan and Brian Gleeson, and in Rosie, a film about homelessness that was written by Roddy Doyle. The second series of The Dry, which started on May 15, continues at 9.35pm on Wednesday on RTÉ One and is also available on the RTÉ Player.

How did your upbringing shape your attitudes toward money?

I grew up in Blackrock in Dublin. My father had the attitude that a gentleman shouldn’t talk about money, which was not a great thing to grow up with, and my mother was very practical.

My mother had been an actress and my dad was a barrister. While he was a brilliant barrister, he struggled to get paid. It was either feast or famine at home – either we were in the money or we were stony broke.

I wasn’t taught to save but my mother was thrifty; she was an eco-warrior before it was fashionable and knew to fix and buy second-hand clothes. The dregs of our milky tea would be used to make bread. So I grew up with a great sense of being able to make do with very little.

When were you most broke?

There were so many situations like that. Being an actor and performer in Dublin, I would sometimes have some money and sometimes zero.

I remember having only 20p going into Quinnsworth (now Tesco) and all I could afford was a carrot. I still don’t know what I was going to make with the carrot. That was around 1991.

But then you’d get a voiceover or writing gig and have loads of money. I have a bit more stability now.

Has your financial situation improved with all your recent acting gigs?

I’ve had a lot of theatre work recently, though it’s not nearly as well paid as films. But all the work has been very steady of late. I’m married to a musician and artist – we were never one of those couples with a “laying hen”. We never had that stability but we’d make do and branch out into different areas to keep the kids fed and clothed.​

What is your biggest extravagance?

We like to go away a lot, particularly to the west of Ireland. We often rent somewhere beautiful in Connemara or Kerry. I love a little luxury and do love a posh hotel for a weekend but most of the time we go for a swim, spend time on a beach with the dogs, and have mussels afterwards.

Being in the business I’m in, I spend a lot on skincare.

I justify spending the money on my skin because I don’t spend a fortune on my hair – I use a hair colour, trim it myself, and don’t get it cut very often.

Would you buy Irish property now?

I would. We live in Dublin city centre but don’t own our apartment. I’d love a little bit of land. But property is so ridiculously expensive. Maybe if I get the next big Netflix job we might buy!

I’m developing a play at the moment called Concrete, and it’s about not being able to afford a house and what this means in a society where owning property is viewed as so important. The play is about a woman and a son who have to move from Dublin to Mullingar.

My two kids are artists and musicians and haven’t been able to move out of home.

So many creatives have to move out of the city now. It’s difficult to get people to perform in plays in Dublin because they have to factor in the cost of overnight stays.

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