|Punt Éireannach (Irish)|
£1 coin (reverse) Red deer
|ISO 4217 code||IEP|
|Central bank||Central Bank of Ireland|
|Since||13 March 1979|
|Fixed rate since||31 December 1998|
|Replaced by €, non cash||1 January 1999|
|Replaced by €, cash||1 January 2002|
(or IR£ to distinguish from other pounds)
| penny (English)
| penny (English)
|Coins||½p, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1|
|Freq. used||£5, £10, £20, £50 (£50 note only widely circulated in last two years before introduction of euro)|
|Rarely used||£50, £100|
|Printer||Currency Centre of the Central Bank of Ireland|
|Mint||Currency Centre of the Central Bank of Ireland|
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.
The Irish pound (Irish: Punt Éireannach) was the currency of Ireland until 2002. Its ISO 4217 code was IEP, and the usual notation was the prefix £ (or IR£ where confusion might have arisen with the pound sterling or other pounds). The Irish pound was superseded by the euro on 1 January 1999. Euro currency did not begin circulation until the beginning of 2002.
The earliest Irish coinage was introduced in 997 with the pound divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. Equivalence to the sterling was established by King John of England around 1210 so that Irish silver could move freely into the English economy and help finance his wars in France. However, from 1460, issues were made with different metal contents to those of England and the values of the two currencies diverged. During the Civil War, 1689–1691, James II issued an emergency, base-metal coinage known as gun money.
In 1701, the relationship between the Irish pound and sterling was fixed at 13 Irish pounds = 12 pounds sterling. This led to a situation where Irish copper coins circulated with British silver coins, since 13 pence Irish = 1 British shilling. The only 19th century exceptions were silver tokens denominated in pence Irish issued by the Bank of Ireland between 1804 and 1813. The last Irish copper pennies and halfpennies were minted in 1823. The distinct Irish pound existed until January 1826 when it was replaced by British currency. Irish banks continued to issue paper money denominated in sterling after 1826 but no further distinct coins were issued.
A new pound was introduced in 1928, although parity with sterling was maintained. This new Irish pound was initially known as the Saorstát pound ("Free State pound") and was pegged to the pound sterling. As with sterling, the £sd system was used, with the Irish names punt (plural: puint), scilling (plural: scillingí) and pingin (plural: pinginí). Distinctive coins and notes were introduced. However, the pound sterling continued to be accepted on a one-for-one basis everywhere.
From 1938, the means of tender was referred to as the Irish pound, after the Constitution of Ireland changed the state's name. The Currency Act, 1927, Adaptation Order, 1938 was the actual mechanism by which change took place.
Decimalisation of the currency was discussed during the 1960s. When the British government decided to decimalise its currency the Irish government followed suit. The legislative basis for decimalisation in the Republic was the Decimal Currency Act, 1969. The number of pence in the Irish pound was redefined from 240 to 100, with the penny symbol changing from "d" to "p". The pound itself was not revalued by this act and therefore pound banknotes were unaffected, although the 10 shilling note was replaced by the 50p coin. New coins were issued of the same dimensions and materials as the corresponding new British coins. The Decimal Currency Act, 1970 made additional provisions for the changeover not related with the issue of coins.
Decimalisation was overseen by the Irish Decimal Currency Board, created on 12 June 1968. It provided changeover information to the public including a pamphlet called Everyone's Guide to Decimal Currency. The changeover occurred on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971.
The European Exchange Rate Mechanism finally broke the one-for-one link that existed between the Irish pound and the pound sterling; by 30 March 1979 the parity link between the two currencies was broken and an exchange rate was introduced.
This period also saw the creation of the Currency Centre at Sandyford in 1978 so that banknotes and coinage could be manufactured within the state. Prior to this banknotes were printed by specialist commercial printers in England, and coins by the Royal Mint.
Until 1986, all decimal Irish coins were the same shape and size as their UK counterparts. After this, however, all new denominations or redesigned coins were of different sizes to the UK coinage. The new 20p and £1 coins were completely different in size, shape and composition to the previously introduced UK versions. When the UK 5p and 10p coins were reduced in size, the Irish followed suit but with the new Irish 10p smaller than the new UK version and the new Irish 5p slightly bigger than the UK version. The Irish 50p was never reduced in size (as in the UK).
Replacement with the euro
On 31 December 1998, the exchange rates between the European Currency Unit and the Irish pound and 10 other EMS currencies (all but the pound sterling, the Swedish krona and the Danish krone) were fixed. The fixed conversion factor for the Irish pound was € 1 = IR£ 0.787564. On the next day, a virtual euro was introduced and the exchange rate was GB£ 1 = € 1.42210, making GB£ 1 ≈ IR£ 1.12. By 1 January 2002, the day when the physical euro was introduced, GB£1 was worth about IR£ 1.287. Following the appreciation of the euro since its launch and the fall of Sterling in 2007-2009, as of May 2012, GB£ 1 was worth about the equivalent of IR£ 0.98.
Although the euro became the currency of the eurozone countries including Ireland on 1 January 1999, it was not until 1 January 2002 that the state began to withdraw Irish pound coins and notes, replacing them with euro specie. All other eurozone countries withdrew their currencies in a similar fashion, from that date. Irish pound coins and notes ceased to be legal tender on 9 February 2002, although they are intended to be exchangeable indefinitely for euro at the Central Bank.
On 31 December 2001, the total value of Irish banknotes in circulation was €4,343.8 million, and the total value of Irish coins was €387.9 million. The Irish cash changeover was one of the fastest in the eurozone, with some shops illegally ceasing to accept pounds after the first week or two. With a conversion factor of 0.787564 Irish pounds to the euro, 56%, by value, of Irish banknotes was withdrawn from circulation within two weeks of the introduction of euro banknotes and coins, and 83.4% by the time they ceased to have legal tender status.
Withdrawal of coinage was slower, having a lower priority, with only 45% of coins withdrawn by 9 February 2002.
All Irish coins and banknotes, from the start of the Irish Free State onwards, both decimal and pre-decimal, may be exchanged for euro at the Central Bank in Dublin.
When decimal currency and the euro were in turn introduced, many people in Ireland believed that prices had been improperly raised by traders taking advantage of the confusion, exchange rates notwithstanding.
In the case of the euro the government took special measures to try to prevent any unnecessary price changes, which ultimately proved ineffective. The changeover coincided with an economic boom in the country, and inflation was moderately high. People were eager to blame price rises on merchants taking advantage of changeover confusion.
Most retailers, especially the larger chains, continued to show prices in Irish pounds under the euro price for up to 5 years after the changeover, enabling people to see the price in old currency and check whether prices had been improperly inflated.
Rumours of a return
- Banknotes of the Republic of Ireland
- Coins of the Republic of Ireland
- Commemorative coins of Ireland
- Irish euro coins
- Economy of the Republic of Ireland
- Economic and Monetary Union Act, 1998 (Section 6)
- Irish Hammered Coinage (~995 to ~1660)
- Bank of Ireland - Ten Pence Token - 1805
- Mr. Hegarty in the Dail: "With regard to our entry into the EMS we are glibly assuming that the Irish £ will appreciate against sterling on our entry. On reading a paper this morning I noticed that the opposite is true. In the first market opened by Barclays the Irish £ depreciated". Debates at the Irish Parliament Ireland's on participation in the European Monetary System (13 December 1978) http://www.ena.lu/debates_irish_parliament_ireland_participation_european_monetary_december_1978-020003683.html
- "It was only in 1978, when beckoned to join the EMS, a Franco-German project for a new zone of monetary stability in Europe, that the Irish government decided to make the change. At first there was some hope that it would prove possible to hold the Irish pound’s value at one pound sterling while still respecting the fluctuation limits in the EMS, despite the fact that Britain had not joined the new exchange-rate mechanism. But the strength of sterling in the early months of the EMS, buoyed up as it was by North Sea oil revenues and by the tight monetary policy of the Thatcher administration, put paid to that hope. It is arguable that a continuation of the sterling link into the early 1980s would have proved politically unsupportable, considering the loss of competitiveness that it might have entailed at a time of rapidly growing unemployment associated with the fiscal adjustment of those years". "Encyclopedia of Irish History and Culture", Vol.,1 James Donnelly ed., Macmillan Thomson Gale (2002)
- Oanda Corporation. "Exchange rate from pound sterling to euro on 1 January 1999". Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- Oanda Corporation. "Exchange rate from pound sterling to euro on 1 January 2002". Retrieved 2007-02-20.
- Irish Pound Notes and Coins (Cessation of Legal Tender Status) Order, 2001
- Of the 15 national currencies originally tied to the euro (also including the currencies of Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino ), the Irish pound was the only one whose conversion factor was less than 1, i.e. the unit of the national currency was worth more than one euro.
- Inside Ireland, The Euro by Hugh Oram (retrieved 29 October 2006)
- The Wall Street Journal, Banks Prep for Life After Euro (retrieved 8 December 2011)
- RTÉ, Central Bank not printing punts, just euro (retrieved 8 December 2011)
- Irish banknotes
- Irish coinage website - history, images and catalogue.
- Overview of Irish pound from the BBC
- The Irish Pound: From Origins to EMU (734K PDF file, from Central Bank website).
- ^ 1999 by law, 2002 de facto.