Banknotes of Ireland
Ireland has issued its own trading banknotes for several centuries, both when the whole of Ireland was one legal entity, and following partition of the island into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Notes have been issued by individual banks and by state agencies of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
First Irish pound
Commercial bank issues 1783-1921
|Irish Free State & Northern Ireland
Commercial bank issues 1921-1927
|Northern Ireland issues
(part of the U.K.)
Commercial bank issues 1929+
|Irish government banknote issues
Currency Commission 1927-1942
|Legal Tender Notes
A Series 1928-1942
commercial bank issues
|Central Bank of Ireland 1943–2001|
Legal Tender Notes
The Bank of Ireland was the first bank to produce notes intended solely for use within Ireland; its first issue was in 1783. Early notes were denominated either in Irish pounds or guineas, with 1 guinea equal to 1 pound 2 shillings 9 pence Irish.
In 1826, the Irish pound was replaced by the pound sterling and later Irish banknotes were issued denominated in sterling. Banks issuing notes during this period were the Bank of Ireland, the Belfast Banking Company, the National Bank, the Northern Banking Company, the Provincial Bank of Ireland and the Ulster Bank.
To begin with, the Bank of Ireland issued sterling notes in denominations of 1 pound and 30 shillings. From the 1890s, larger denominations were introduced of 3, 5, 10 and 20 pounds. The Belfast Banking Company began issuing notes in the 1870s, with denominations ultimately including 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds. The National Bank issued notes from 1905 in denominations of 1, 3, 5 and 10 pounds. The Northern Banking Company issued 5 pounds notes in the 1850s, followed by notes for 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds beginning in 1918. The Provincial Bank issued its first 10-pound notes in 1835, followed by 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 and 100 pounds from the 1880s. The Ulster Bank issued notes from 1900 in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds.
Irish Free State and Republic of Ireland
Initially the partition of Ireland did not have any direct impact on currency; however, the Currency Act of 1927 gave the Currency Commission the sole authority to print and circulate legal tender in the Irish Free State. This resulted in notes issued directly by the Commission and also by the eight shareholding banks. From 1943 to 2001, the Central Bank of Ireland took over this role, until the introduction of the euro.
Currently euro banknotes circulate in the Republic as legal tender.
In 1929, six banks began issuing sterling notes for circulation in Northern Ireland. These were Bank of Ireland, Belfast Banking Company, National Bank, Northern Bank, Provincial Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.
Today, four banks retain the right to issue banknotes in Northern Ireland, based at Belfast, two of which are Irish owned, one Scottish owned and one Danish owned. These banks are Bank of Ireland (NI), Danske Bank (formerly Northern Bank), First Trust Bank, and Ulster Bank. Their notes are backed by deposits at the Bank of England.
- Mac Devitt, M (1999) Irish Banknotes. Irish Government Papermoney from 1928 (1st ed.) ISBN 0-9506415-2-9
- Mac Devitt, M (1999) Irish Banknotes. Irish Papermoney 1783-2005 (3rd ed.) ISBN 0-9543712-2-4