The reality of living in rip-off Ireland

In the fourth part of Stretched, our series on the cost of living in Ireland, we looked at the cost of socialising - including the price of concert tickets, hotel rooms, and food and drink.

Alan Costello, a listener from Cork, recently went to see Coldplay at Croke Park. He decided to drive back home after the concert because Dublin city centre hotels were too expensive. "The tickets were about €120 each," he told us. "Staying overnight and spending the day in Dublin would have been €500."

John O'Neil, CEO of Tickets.ie and Seatfair.com, spoke about the fact that people are still willing to pay high ticket prices to see their favourite artists: "The shows are selling out. I think it's a sign of a resurgent economy. It's a unique experience - most artists are only here once every few years."

As to why ticket prices are lower in other countries such as Spain, John said, "It's actually the local governments in other countries that are subsidising those events themselves."

Michael Vaughan, hotelier and former President of the Irish Hotel Federation, added, "I can't fathom the massive hikes in hotel rates. There's a point where you push up a rate and people will just say, 'I'll stay at home.' I can't understand why a hotel would want to publish an expensive rate well in advance of a concert."

"It's not just hotels - Airbnb hosts and airlines have been pumping it up as well."

Sorcha Hamilton of the Irish Times explained how much drinking at home and on nights out could cost: "I think a lot of people are into the idea of spending a little bit more if they're going to be getting a quality product. But a lot of the time it depends on the kind of drinking you want to do."

"If you want to do your bulk drinking you can go into a supermarket and buy 20 bottles for under €20. If you want to go to a pub and have a few nice craft beers or gin and tonics, pretty quickly you're going to be spending €50."

Padraig Cribben, CEO of the Vintners Association of Ireland, said, "The average price of a pint in this country is €4.38, and a third of that goes to the government in tax."

"One of our serious problems in relation to the price of drinking in this country is the very high level of taxation - we pay ten times the amount of tax in Ireland on a pint compared to what they pay in Germany, Spain or Portugal. If high taxes were the solution to the so-called problem, we'd have no problem because we have the highest taxes in Europe."

We asked our listeners to send in their pictures of burgers with an average cost of €15 that can be found in pubs and restaurants around the country, and assess their value for money: