From the £ (pound sterling) to the Punt (IRP) and to the €


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 Banc Ceannais na hÉireann or the Central Bank of Ireland, which is the central bank of the Republic of Ireland and had control of the issue of Irish banknotes and coins.

The complete list of pre-1971 Irish coins:

farthing - a quarter of a penny (Feorling)

half-penny (leath phingin)

penny (pingin)

threepenny bit (leath réal)

sixpenny bit (réal)

shilling (scilling)

florin (flóirín)

half-crown (leath choróin)

The Decimal System

In 1971 the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom introduced the same denominations of coins, of the same size and weight, (½, 1, 2, 5, 10, and 50 pence) although with different designs.

In 1979, with its participation in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. (The EEM was a system introduced by the European Community in March 1979, as part of the European Monetary System [EMS], to reduce exchange-rate variability and achieve monetary stability in Europe in preparation for the introduction of a single currency, the Euro, which took place in January 1999.) the Irish pound ended parity with the pound Sterling, becoming known as the Irish Punt.

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.

On January 1st the € was introduced in the Republic of Ireland.


Northern Ireland as part of the UK has retained the pound sterling. Like other areas of the UK, however, Northern Ireland issues its own bank notes, which can be used all over the British Isles.


Irish Economy in the European Union (The Celtic Tiger) in Figures


Newsweek, May 10th, 2004


THE BIG BANG HAS GONE OFF. [Meant is the Eastward expansion of the EU of May 1st 2004.] Now is the time for second thoughts. Among newcomers and old-timers alike, politi­cians are scrambling to reas­sure skeptical electorates that May 1 will bring no harmful changes. Not so. While the long-term economic and so­cial consequences of EU enlargement will almost certainly be positive, one thing is certain: some unpleasant surprises will come along the way.

To be sure, new Europe's architects have good cause for optimism. Economic growth in the 10 countries joining the Eu­ropean Union was 3.7 percent last year,nearly 10 times that of the existing euro zone. U.S. and foreign multinationals, quick to scent big opportunities, are invest­ing heavily, both in the East and West. Yet a whiff of overconfidence taints the air. The EU's new members all hope to follow in the footsteps of Spain and Portugal, which joined in 1986 and thrived. They don't speak as loudly of duplicating Ireland's "economic miracle," where per capita in­comes rose from 62 percent of Europe's av­erage in 1973 to 121 percent today, surpass­ing its former imperial ruler, Great Britain. But that's the dream.

Reality is more sobering. The successes of yore were made possible by large infu­sions of cash. Spain and Portugal received EU subsidies totaling as much as 10 per­cent of GNP. As for Ireland, besides the subsidies it became the preferred launch pad into Europe for American multination­als, which generate more than two thirds of the country's exports and spurred the coun­try's famous high-tech boom. Rural Irish unhappy about EU entry were quickly bought off with generous investments funded by the Union.

Today's EU is very different. From the earliest days of European integration, Ger­many was the paymaster that made all good things financially possible. But after spend­ing a trillion euros over a decade on the for­mer East Germany, money in Berlin – and hence Brussels – is  much tighter. Led by Germany, the six net contributors to the EU budget have called for a break. And despite the funds and factories coming in from America and elsewhere, Eastern Europe is probably too large and too diverse to repli­cate the Irish experience.