A thousand years of Irish coins and currency
This exhibition tells the story of coins and money in Ireland from the 10th Century to the present day. It ranges from medieval hoards buried in a hole in the ground to modern banknotes, accessed through an ATM, or 'hole in the wall'. The exhibition also traces the development of paper money from the 18th Century to the present day, finishing with credit cards and internet banking. It also includes specimens of the new Euro currency, coins and notes; the advent of which brings the story of Ireland's distinctive coinage to an end.
Related numismatic material such as tokens and medals are also displayed and explained. The medal collection covers such important topics as agriculture, military history, education, and even more so than coins, reflects events and movements in Irish history. The purpose of the exhibition is to place coins in their historical, social, and economic context. For that reason it examines the manner in which the lives of people were influenced by the use of money and how money in turn reflected social and economic trends. With regard to the medals, it explores their historical significance in their own right and throws light on some of the lesser-known events and aspects of Irish history.
In examining the place of coins and coinage in Ireland through the ages, a number of issues are addressed:
- How and why did coinage develop in Ireland?
- What were the political, geographic and economic factors influencing coin usage?
- How did major political events such as the Act of Union and the foundation of the modern Irish State affect contemporary coinage?
A timeline with relevant coins is used to tell the story of Irish coinage in chronological form, while specific issues are explored in greater depth in the main gallery spaces. Highlights of the exhibition include the first Irish coinage struck by the Dublin Vikings, the rare gold pistoles of the 1640s, the infamous 'gunmoney' of King James II and the pastercasts submitted for the Free State coinage of 1928. The use of graphics, magnification, enlargement and interactives help to bring the material to life and allows the visitor to examine the subject in detail.