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Ireland

Euro crisis leads to alternative economy

The Clonakilty Favour Exchange is drawing attention in financially beleaguered Ireland. Here, the age-old motto "time is money" has been inverted, and money is now time.

Today is market day in Clonakilty. Traders sell vegetables, meat and fish, and people stand between the stalls, chatting as if they had not a care in the world. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

Since the start of the economic crisis, the 4,000-strong community has had little to smile about. Local businesses are struggling to keep going, and empty houses are a painful reminder of the troubled times. Young people in particular are leaving Clonakilty to try their luck in Canada or New Zealand.

Those who do stay have to find new ways to make ends meet. It was this bleak outlook that led one resident to start the Clonakilty Favour Exchange in February of last year. Since then, people have been able to afford legal advice, haircuts and computer repairs by paying with their time. More than 150 residents are now a part of the exchange that offers its members more than the chance to swap services.

The currency of time

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