A new era commenced in 1460 when a novel and distinctively Irish coinage appeared and during the following half century a wide range of denominations and designs were struck, not only at Dublin and the larger cities such as Cork, Limerick and Galway, but also at several regional mints such as Wexford, Drogheda and Trim. Each town and each coin has its own story to tell. The highest denomination was now the groat or fourpence rather than the penny.
The desire to differentiate the Irish from English in the later medieval period was not a mere design issue but arose from the problems caused by the outflow of silver from Ireland to the stronger English economy. One remedy was to make the Irish coins lighter and noticeably different to discourage their export. Whatever about the wisdom of this strategy it has left us with some very unusual and eye-catching coins.
The marital difficulties of Henry VIII are also reflected on his Irish coins in that the initials of some of his wives appear on his silver issues and his assumption of the title 'King of Ireland' rather than the medieval title 'Lord of Ireland' can also be traced. The wars and depredations of the Cromwellian period, the conflict between King James and King William and the controversy stirred up by Dean Swift over the infamous Wood's Halfpence in the 1720's are all reflected in contemporary coin issues. Tudors, Stuarts, Jacobites and Williamites, all left their mark on the coinage and the economic and political history of the country can to a considerable degree be traced through the designs, legends and aspirations, which appear on the fronts and backs of these historical little documents, for that indeed is what they are.
Airgead 1800-2001 Click Next