Irish coins have been issued by a variety of local and national authorities, the ancient provincial Kings and High Kings of Ireland, the Kingdom of Ireland (1541–1801), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922), the Irish Free State (1922–1937), and the present Republic of Ireland. Some modern British coins have Northern Ireland symbols (such as flax and the harp) but these are circulated throughout the UK.
Hiberno-Norse coins were first produced in Dublin in about 997 under the authority of King Sitric Silkbeard. The first coins were local copies of the issues of Aethelred II of England, and as the Anglo-Saxon coinage of the period changed its design every six years, the coinage of Sitric followed this pattern.
Following the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 the Hiberno-Norse coinage ceased following this pattern and reverted to one of its earlier designs—the so-called 'long cross' type. Coins of this general design (with occasional new designs incorporated briefly from other English and European issues) were struck in decreasing quality over a period of more than 100 years. By the end of the series the coins had become illegible and debased, and were too thin to serve for practical commerce.
All the coins produced were the penny denomination. They were initially produced at the penny standard (i.e. one pennyweight or 1/240th of a pound of silver) but the later pieces are both debased and lightweight.
These coins were issued by Baron John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster.
The coins which followed the 1169–75 Norman conquest (farthings, halfpennies and pennies) were minted to the same standard as those of England. A chief purpose of these coins was to provide a means for the export of silver from Ireland.
Later pieces followed the standard of England until 1460 when a lower, Irish standard was introduced with coins weighing ¾ of their English counterparts. This coincided with the introduction of a larger denomination, the groat (4 pence). Half groats followed in 1483. Edward VI issued the first Irish shillings following debasement of the coinage during the reign of Henry VIII. Prior to the reign of King Henry VIII (1509–47), the Irish coinage carried the title 'Dominus Hiberniae' (or Lord of Ireland). After 1535, Henry took the title King of Ireland.
In 1561, Elizabeth I introduced a higher standard of silver coinage for a few years before returning to a base standard. Copper halfpennies and pennies were also introduced. Higher standard issues were resumed by James I but all Irish issues ceased in 1607. During the English Civil War, a number of local coins were issued in Ireland.
Copper halfpennies were struck between 1680 and 1689, during the reigns of King Charles II (1660–85) and King James II (1685–88).
These coins were struck by the deposed King James II after he fled to France. These coins are unique because they show the month of issue as well as the year. As there was a shortage of metal for coinage, church bells and possibly old cannon were melted down, thus giving rise to the name Gun money or Gunmoney. These coins were declared illegal tender after King William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.[ citation needed ]
A second issue of emergency coinage, consisting of farthings and halfpennies, was issued in 1691 for use in Limerick.
William Wood was authorised in 1722 to produce up to 360 tons of halfpence and farthings for Ireland at 30 pence to the pound over a period of fourteen years for an annual fee of £800 paid to the king. These coins were unpopular in Ireland, largely due to Jonathan Swift's polemical Drapier's Letters , and Wood lost his patent though compensated with a pension.
After the end of the English Civil War, copper farthings and halfpennies resumed production, and pennies were added in 1805. In 1804, the Bank of Ireland introduced silver tokens for 6 shillings which were overstrikes on Spanish dollars. These were followed by 5, 10 and 30 pence Irish tokens. The last halfpennies and pennies were minted in 1823.
The 1822–23 issue marked the last appearance of the symbol of a crowned harp, which represented the Kingdom of Ireland. Following this, standard British coinage was used throughout the island.
Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, the Irish Free State first circulated new national coinage in 1928, marked Saorstát Éireann (Irish Free State), although British coinage was still acceptable in the Free State at an equal rate. In 1937, following the adoption of the Constitution of Ireland which changed the name of the independent Irish State, the coins became marked Éire , although the Irish pound remained pegged at par to sterling.
Ireland and the United Kingdom decimalised their currencies in 1971, and parity between the two currencies continued until Ireland joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1979. An exchange rate between the Irish pound and the pound sterling was established on 30 March 1979. The smaller denomination British 1p and 2p coins continued to be unofficially interchangeable with the Irish coins until the euro was introduced in 2002, partly due to their identical size and shape. Ireland adopted the euro as its currency along with most of its EU partners on 1 January 2002. The national side of the Irish euro coins bears the coat of arms of Ireland and the 12 stars of the EU, the year of imprint and the Irish name for Ireland, Éire, in the traditional Irish script. These coins circulate throughout the eurozone.
Northern Ireland has continued to use British coinage since the partition of Ireland. The British one pound coin has featured varying designs to represent England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the UK as a whole. The 1986 and 1991 issues featured a flax plant in a coronet, the 1996 issue featured a Celtic cross and flax flower, the 2006 coin featured MacNeill's Egyptian Arch, and the 2014 coin featured a shamrock and flax plant, all representing Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
These coins are not unique to Northern Ireland and circulate through the entire United Kingdom and other sterling area countries.
The Giant's Causeway appeared on two five-pound coins in 2012; these are commemorative coins and are rarely circulated.
The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pennies and pounds sterling, and ranges in value from one penny sterling to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. Before decimalisation, twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound.
A penny is a coin or a unit of currency in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius, it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is the formal name of the British penny (abbr. p) and the de facto name of the American one-cent coin (abbr. ¢) as well as the informal Irish designation of the 1 cent euro coin (abbr. c). It is the informal name of the cent unit of account in Canada, although one-cent coins are no longer minted there. The name is used in reference to various historical currencies also derived from the Carolingian system, such as the French denier and the German pfennig. It may also be informally used to refer to any similar smallest-denomination coin, such as the euro cent or Chinese fen.
The British half farthing was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/1,920 of a pound, 1/96 of a shilling, or 1/8 of a penny. It was minted in copper for use in Ceylon, but in 1842 was also declared legal tender in the United Kingdom. Two different obverses were used. Like all British coinage, it bore the portrait of the monarch on the obverse.
The English penny, originally a coin of 1.3 to 1.5 grams pure silver, was introduced c. 785 by King Offa of Mercia. These coins were similar in size and weight to the continental deniers of the period and to the Anglo-Saxon sceats which had preceded it.
The British farthing historically abbreviated qua., was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/960 of one pound, 1/48 of one shilling, or 1/4 of one penny. It was minted in copper and later in bronze, and replaced the earlier English farthings.
Sterling is the official currency of the United Kingdom and its associated territories.
The pound was the currency of the Republic of Ireland until 2002. Its ISO 4217 code was IEP, and the symbol was £. The Irish pound was replaced by the euro on 1 January 1999. Euro currency did not begin circulation until the beginning of 2002.
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was Monday 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence.
£sd is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies once common throughout Europe, especially in the British Isles and hence in several countries of the British Empire and subsequently the Commonwealth. The abbreviation originates from the Latin currency denominations librae, solidi, and denarii. In the United Kingdom, these were referred to as pounds, shillings, and pence.
The pound was the currency of Scotland prior to the 1707 Treaty of Union between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was introduced by David I, in the 12th century, on the Carolingian monetary system of a pound divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. The Scottish currency was later debased relative to sterling and, by the time of James III, £1 stg was valued at £4 Scots.
The pound is the currency of Guernsey. Since 1921, Guernsey has been in currency union with the United Kingdom and the Guernsey pound is not a separate currency but is a local issue of sterling banknotes and coins, in a similar way to the banknotes issued in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. It can be exchanged at par with other sterling coinage and notes.
The Jamaican dollar has been the currency of Jamaica since 1969. It is often abbreviated to J$, the J serving to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents, although cent denominations are no longer in use as of 2018. Goods and services may still be priced in cents, but cash transactions are now rounded to the nearest dollar.
The pound is the currency of Jersey. Jersey is in currency union with the United Kingdom, and the Jersey pound is not a separate currency but is an issue of banknotes and coins by the States of Jersey denominated in sterling, in a similar way to the banknotes issued in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It can be exchanged at par with other sterling coinage and notes.
The pound is the currency of the Isle of Man, at parity with sterling. The Manx pound is divided into 100 pence. Notes and coins, denominated in pounds and pence, are issued by the Isle of Man Government.
The pound is the currency of the Atlantic islands of Saint Helena and Ascension, which are constituent parts of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is fixed at parity with sterling, and so both currencies are commonly accepted and circulated within Saint Helena. It is subdivided into 100 pence.
There have been three sets of coins in Ireland since independence. In all three, the coin showed a Celtic harp on the obverse. The pre-decimal coins of the Irish pound had realistic animals on the reverse; the decimal coins retained some of these but featured ornamental birds on the lower denominations; and the euro coins used the common design of the euro currencies. The pre-decimal and original decimal coins were of the same dimensions as the same-denomination British coins, as the Irish pound was in currency union with the British pound sterling. British coins were widely accepted in Ireland, and conversely to a lesser extent. In 1979 Ireland joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Irish pound left parity with sterling; coin designs introduced after this differed between the two countries.
From c. 1124 until 1709 the coinage of Scotland was unique, and minted locally. A wide variety of coins, such as the plack, bodle, bawbee, dollar and ryal were produced over that time. For trading purposes coins of Northumbria and various other places had been used before that time; and since 1709 those of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and then of the UK.
The pound was the official currency of Jamaica between 1840 and 1969. It circulated as a mixture of sterling coinage and locally issued coins and banknotes and was always equal to the pound sterling. The Jamaican pound was also used in the Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The pound was the currency of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence.
A farthing was a coin of the Kingdom of England worth one quarter of a penny, 1⁄960 of a pound sterling. Such coins were first minted in England in silver in the 13th century, and continued to be used until the Kingdom of England was merged into the new Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.