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950-1450: Vikings, Normans and Medieval Mints

Read how the earliest Irish coinage was imported by the Vikings and how, later, both the Vikings and the Normans minted their own money.

Coins were first introduced into Ireland by the Vikings and the very earliest coins actually struck in the country - silver pennies - were produced in Dublin under the Viking King Sihtric III around 997 or 998 AD.

Viking coinage

For about 100 years prior to this date the Irish Vikings had made use of coins of others and Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian and even Islamic coins from central Asia circulated in 10th century Ireland.

Sihtric is remembered in Irish history chiefly as the figure who built up an international alliance against Brian Boru, leading to the Battle of Clontarf. His involvement in coin production however, provides the starting point for the story of Irish coinage.

The Normans and their money

The Normans also left their mark and it was under the authority of Prince John that coins were first struck outside Dublin, in cities such as Waterford, Limerick and Kilkenny. In Ulster, under John de Courcy, there were also mints at Downpatrick and Carrickfergus. During the 13th Century the triangle appeared on Irish coins, where the head of the reigning monarch was usually enclosed in a circle, to distinguish them from their English counterparts.

1310-1460: Borrowed coins and forgeries

As the power of the Norman colony declined, however, the minting of coins petered out and there were virtually no coins minted during the century and a half 1310 to 1460. During this period coins in circulation included worn Irish, English and Scottish pieces, European imitative coins and, in the 15th Century, poor quality forgeries known as 'O'Reilly's Money'.

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