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Irish pound
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Irish pound

The Irish pound (Irish language: punt) was the currency unit of the Irish Free State, and later of the republic of Ireland until 1 January, 1999; the ISO 4217 code was IEP. From 1826 Ireland followed the British currency system, Sterling, and continued this direct connection during independence until finally withdrawing from it in 1979, when Ireland joined the ERM.

Table of contents
1 Pre-decimal system
2 Decimal system
3 Withdrawal
4 External link

Pre-decimal system

The Irish pound, originally called the Saorstát pound ('Free State pound'), was introduced in 1928 by the Currency Commission, which was later transferred to the Central Bank of Ireland. The complete list of pre-1971 Irish coins were

Decimal system

£1 Note (Series B) - features Queen Medb
Decimal Day, On 15 February, 1971, the Irish pound and the British Pound Sterling were decimalised. Ireland and the United Kingdom then introduced the same denominations of coins, of the same size and weight, (½, 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 pence) albeit with different designs. In 1979, with its participation in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism the Irish pound ended parity with the pound Sterling, becoming known as the Irish Punt.
£1 Coin - features Irish red deer
Irish coins introduced after 1979 (20p and £1) were of a completely different size and weight from the equivalent British coins, as were the 5p and 10p coins after both countries reduced the coins in size in the early 1990s.


Although the euro became the currency of the republic on 1 January, 1999, it wasn't until 1 January, 2002 that Ireland began to withdraw Irish pound coins and notes, replacing them with euro.

Old pound notes lost its legal tender status on 9 February, 2002, although they will be exchangeable indefinitely for euro at the Central Bank of Ireland.

At 31 December, 2001, the total value of Irish banknotes in circulation was €44,343.8 million , and the total value of Irish coins was €387.9 million. The Irish cash changeover was 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 With a conversion factor of 0.787564 Irish pounds to the euro, fifty-six per cent of the value of Irish banknotes was withdrawn from circulation within two weeks of the introduction of euro banknotes and coins, and 83.4 per cent by the time they ceased to have legal tender status on 9 February.

Withdrawal of coinage was slower, having a lower priority, with only 45 per cent of coins withdrawn by 9 February. This figure is somewhat misleading, as at that point, almost all coinage in circulation had indeed been withdrawn – the remainder being kept as souvenirs, or in hoards. One year after the changeover, €456 million of Irish pound banknotes remained unaccounted for, including one-third of all the £5 notes which, being the smallest denomination, were likely retained as souvenirs.

External link

The Irish Pound: From Origins to EMU (734K PDF file, from Central Bank website).