‘The Wandering Harp’ - one of seven short original works from leading European writers commissioned by “The World Today” (BBC World Service [q.d.]).

On Friday 14 December 2001 in my local bank in Dublin I collected £5 worth of shiny Euro coins in a small plastic bag and brought them home.

One side of each coin showed a map of Europe with a semi-detached Scandinavia and then Ireland out at the edge, and the other side displayed a harp, one of the symbols of Ireland.

Each country will be allowed to display its symbol on one side of the coins, and these coins can be used in any country.

I need these coins badly because I will be in Ibiza on New Year’s Day when the coins come into use, and I will take real pleasure in spending my half Irish coin, allowing my new coin to enter into the Spanish money system, the wandering harp.

It is like writing your origins on the wall as the coins move slowly over years throughout Europe from their humble beginnings in Ireland.

The Euro notes will be the same in each country. On 6 January 2001, which is still the most important feast in the Spanish calendar, I will be in a remote village in Catalonia.

The way the fields are tilled; how walls and houses are constructed; how people dress; how they work; how they think even is different from Ireland.

As the European cities slowly converge, with the same shops and the same fashions and the same habits, the countryside in Europe holds on to its strangeness and individuality.

I take pleasure in the fact that there is no common language and no common culture. Yet I will enjoy walking into my local shop buying the groceries using a new note, a new word, knowing that money can bind us like nothing else.

For them it will be a Euro (Catalan pron) and me a Euro, but from 1 January, it will connect Dublin to Catalonia in a common currency. It will be a great novelty.

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