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Main Site Map - Irish Paper Money History - 300 Years of Irish Currency - Special Sections and Articles
Private Banks ca1670-ca1836 - Joint Stock Banks pre-1929 - Ploughman Consolidated Bank Notes 1929-40 - Lavery A Series 1928-77 - B Series 1976-93 - C Series 1992-2001 - Northern Ireland 1929 - World War 2 Issues - Limerick Soviet Notes - Ballykinlar Tokens - Replacements and Errors - Grading Guide - Books - Irish Notes For Sale


Old Irish Banknotes
A Study of Old Irish Currency ca1670 - 2021

Irish papermoney blogOld Irish Banknotes is a Web Resource on the Paper Money of Ireland

New stuff is being added all the time.

Our research on the Irish Private banks continues. A small steady trickle of newly recorded notes adds to the story, though very few banknotes or post bills new to the market have turned up in auction in recent years.

Most of the new information on the background of the issuers of notes comes from literature searches on the internet.

There is also a wealth of information on old Irish money to be found in Irish Numismatics Magazine (1968 - 1983) by Derek Young in his sections titled, ‘The Private Banks and their Notes’, as well as older reference material. Additionally, there is information and images of many important notes in ‘Paper Money of Ireland’.

References used in the private banks pages on this website are listed at the end of each bank page. Further references are added on an ongoing basis as they are discovered, along with background information on the individuals behind the Irish private banks. Many of these early bankers were prominent members of society.

Latest Additions to

Major Additions of New Sections are Listed in Updates and Contents.


Irish Ten Shilling Notes

Added a new page on Lavery 10 shilling notes to the A Series banknotes section.

How Much is a Ten Shilling Note Worth?

That depends on how nice it is, and on how old it is!
A thread on the board lists the current numismatic value of Irish 10 shilling notes.


Additions to Special Articles

The Banknote Design Evolution of Irish Joint Stock Banks 1824 to 1916.
A review of the changes in the designs of banknotes issued by the six joint stock banks with the right of note issue, and the factors which likely influenced those changes.

A significant change was spread over a period of approximately thirty years, in which the banknotes evolved from just having a single branch listed as the place of payment in addition to the bank's head office, to listing all the branches of the bank on every note.

Bank of Ireland 30 Shilling noteBank of Ireland Pound note 1916


Additions to Irish Private Banks

The additon of a page on Ewing & Co., Belfast Bank 1787 - 1797 brings the total number of banks to 23 listed in the Private Banks section. Ewing's Bank was a successful, though short-lived company which closed in an orderly manner in 1797.

Many of the banknotes illustrated in the Private Banknotes section, and some of the banknotes illustrated in the Old Notes section are reproduced from auctions by Noonans, Mayfair (formerly DNW), Whyte's, Dublin, and Spink, London. Other illustrations are from Bank of Ireland, the Central Bank of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, and scans from private collections.

Specimens of Irish Legal Tender Notes and Consolidated Bank Notes are courtsey of The Central Bank of Ireland. Almost all other Legal Tender Note and Consolidated Banknote images are sourced from private collections or from the Central Bank of Ireland.

Extra banknote pictures are being added constantly, as they are loaned by collectors, museums, and archives, and are found on the web. Please submit missing dates and images via the forum, or by email.

Irish Private Banks ca1760 to ca1836

The section on the Irish Private Banks is one of the major sections on this website. It draws on the expanding section in the forum that deals with the Private Banks Discussions, whose paper money issues circulated in Ireland from ca1670 up to ca1836.

Irish private banks were limited to 6 partners or less and merchants were prohibited from engaging in banking by an act of 1756. This made for many small underfunded banks and a relatively weak banking system. The private banks began to be displaced by joint stock banks as note-issuing entities once the latter were permitted by legislation in 1824 which permitted private joint stock banks, and in 1825 which permitted public joint stock companies.

Further reading on the background history of Irish banknotes and the private banks is covered in detail in the Introduction to Irish Paper Money Issues.

There were over a hundred note-issuing private banks. Almost all of them failed due to being poorly capitalised. A few of the private banks were well-run and these were wound up and closed in an orderly manner, or merged into newly formed joint stock banks.

Among the most successfoul of the private banks was La Touche, in business for over 170 years, and Beresford's - Ball's Bank, which operated for around 100 years. One of the most well-known failures was that of Ffrench's Tuam Bank.

One of the private banks, Montgomery's Northern Bank, converted itself into The Northern Banking Company, a private joint stock bank, in 1824. It was Ireland's first joint stock bank since the foundation of the Bank of Ireland in 1783.

Among the last of the Irish private banks to issue notes was Gibbons & Williams in 1833. It was also one of the most spectacular failures among the note-issuing banks, lasting less than two years in business.

gibbons and williams 5 pounds 1833

1922 Bank of Ireland £20, £50, £100 Notes

Type specimens of these denominations of Bank of Ireland Series H notes have been known to numismatics since 1972 when they were on display at a Dublin coin fair. Good quality images of the notes became available from the bank, and can be viewed in the section on Bank of Ireland 1922 Series H banknotes.

Bank of Ireland 100 Pound note 1922

Bank of Ireland 100 Pound Note 1922. Image courtesy of the Bank of Ireland

Central Bank of Ireland Series B 100 Pound Note

Pictures from the Central Bank of Ireland archive show the face and reverse of the design mock-ups of the Irish Series B 100 Pound note. The B Series 100 Pound Note features a portrait of Granuaile. There were several trials of the design for the face of the banknote, with two different portrait designs. The design was actively developed from 1979 through to its cancellation in 1987

The map of Ireland on the reverse is based on the earliest known example of a map of the island, the 1567 map of Hibernia by John Goghe.

Series B hundred pound note
Central Bank of Ireland 100 Pound Note Series B. Images courtesy of the Central Bank of Ireland Archives

Ireland 100 Pounds Series B

Featured Irish Banknote

£500 Pound Note, Highest Known Denomination for an Irish Banknote

Bank of Ireland was the largest issuer of banknotes before partition in 1922 and issued a wide range of denominations. The highest known denomination of old Irish Pounds is £500, issued by Bank of Ireland. One example of a £500 note, dated 18 Dec 1869 is known. Other Irish banks issued notes up to £100 in value prior to and after partition.

Bank of Ireland 500 Pounds 1869. Signed by R. Greville

Bank of Ireland 500 Pound Note 1869. Image courtesy of the Bank of Ireland

The partition of Ireland in 1921 lead to the partition of Irish currency in 1929 into the Northern Ireland Issue and the Currency Commission issues in the Irish Free State. The highest denomination notes issued in each of the new jurisdictions was £100.

News about Irish Banknotes

Polymer banknotes circulating in Northern Ireland

The first polymer note in Northern Ireland was issued by Northern Bank in 1999, in a special issue of two million notes. The latest addition to these issues is the Ulster Bank £50 polymer note, released in 2022.

Polymer banknotes started to enter circulation again in Northern Ireland in 2019 in a general move by Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank to replace their paper note issues with polymer banknotes.

Denominations issued up to October 2022 are for each bank are: Danske Bank, £10, £20 notes; Ulster Bank, £5, £10, £20, £50 notes; Bank of Ireland, £5, £10, £20 notes. Paper notes of higher denominations remain valid for all three banks.

Replacement notes of the Polymer banknote series are being traced, and are added on the Polymer Notes forum thread as they are reported. ZZ prefix is being used by all the banks on their polymer replacement notes.

First Trust Bank has ceased issuing banknotes. First Trust is part of AIB group. The bank announced in 2020 that it would end its note issue. Its notes in circulation are gradually being withdrawn, and ceased to circulate at midnight on 30th June 2022. After this date the old notes can be exchanged in the bank's branches for current issue notes without time limit.

The Ploughman Scan Survey (PSS)

A Census of Surviving Currency Commission Consolidated Bank Notes (Ploughman Notes)

The PSS survey aims to record all surviving Consolidated Bank Notes, by saving an image of each one. One aim is to establish the relative rarities of different issues with respect to each other. Another aim is to build up a knowledge base of the grades of surviving notes.

This is the first survey of its kind carried out on old Irish money. With 3902 Ploughman notes recorded so far, and £10,639 face value, it amounts to 10.108% of the total value of Ploughman notes outstanding. Results and updates are presented in the Ploughman notes forum. The PSS survey has been underway for over 15 years, and is building up a useful database on the Consolidated Ploughman notes.

Detailed results are published periodically. The Fifth Edition of 'Irish Banknotes, Irish Papermoney 1928-2001' will include the latest updates on Ploughman notes, based on PSS data.

Northern Bank One Pound Ploughman 1929

A Ploughman note. The Northern Bank Knox signature One Pound is one of the rarer notes of this series

Structure and History of Old Irish Currency Issues

The Structure of Irish Currency Issues is briefly as follows: banknotes of the Irish Private banks (ca1670 - ca1836), issued by small banks of six partners or less; Old Banknotes (1783 - 1928), issued by the Joint stock commercial banks prior to currency partition in 1929; Currency Commission and Central Bank of Ireland Legal Tender Notes (Irish Government issue, 1928 - 2001), and Consolidated Bank Notes (Ploughman notes, issued by the commercial banks, 1929 - 1941); Northern Ireland notes (issued by the commercial banks, 1929 to the present day).

All old Irish money issued by Irish banks except those of the private banks are reedemable at their face value by their issuing bank or its descendants.

The web site main page links to all the Series of paper money of Ireland, and a pictorial history of Irish currency which shows the progression of issues starting with those of the private banks, the joint stock commercial banks, through to modern era Government issues and Northern Ireland issues.

A brief Introduction to recent Old Irish Money 1928 - 2001

At the time of the establishment of the Irish Free State there already existed a sophisticated banking system throughout the island of Ireland, which utilised the English Pound Sterling as a currency in various different forms. Sterling had been Legal Tender in Ireland since 1826. Before this, there had been an Irish Pound which was separate from the Pound Sterling, and had had a different value to it.

During British rule a great variety of banknotes circulated in Ireland from at least 1709 onwards. Currency stability had been attained by the time of the Bankers (Ireland) Act, 1845, which built on earlier acts and regulated the issue of paper money in Ireland. Banknotes then were issued by six commercial banks under license from and control of the Bank of England. English currency also circulated occasionally.

Banking Commission 1926 and Currency Commission 1927

After Irish independence in 1921 the need for a distinctive Irish currency and an authority to control it became apparent.

A Banking Commission was appointed on 8 March 1926 by the Minister for Finance to study the matter. The Banking Commission recommended the establishment of a new currency, the Saorstát Pound, linked at parity to British Sterling, and an issuing authority, the Currency Commission to oversee the new note issue. The Irish Pound was divided into 20 shillings, and issued in seven denominations, 10 Shillings, £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100.

The 1927 Currency Act provided for the creation of the Irish Saorstát Pound, and of the Currency Commission. The circulating old Irish currency was split between the Irish Free State and Northern ireland. All existing notes issued by the joint stock banks were to be withdrawn and replaced by two new note issues, one for each jurisdiction.

Legal Tender Notes (Lady Lavery Notes) 1928, Consolidated Notes, Northern Ireland Notes

The Currency Commission was created and started to issue Irish Legal Tender Notes in 1928 (known as the 'Lady Lavery' series or 'Lavery Pound note').

In 1929 the Associated (commercial banks) Banks' issues on the island of Ireland were split into Consolidated Banknotes controlled by the Currency Commission in the Irish Free State, and a new issue in Northern Ireland, regulated by the Bank of England.

Central Bank of Ireland 1943

Lavery One Pound Note 1945

Lady Lavery Pound note, Legal Tender Note, A Series

The Central Bank Act, 1942 established the The Central Bank of Ireland in place of the Currency Commission and provided for the withdrawal of the right of note issue from the commercial banks, leaving the Legal Tender Notes the only banknotes issued in Ireland, with notes of the commercial banks being issued in Northern Ireland only.

With parity of value between Sterling and the Irish Pound, Northern Ireland notes and Bank of England notes always continued to circulate in the Irish Free State and later the Republic of Ireland, though the notes of the Currency Commission and later the Central Bank of Ireland did not circulate in Britain or Northern Ireland.

The Lavery Pound note Legal Tender Note design (Series A) was replaced by a more modern design from 1976 (Series B), which was succeeded by a second design (Series C) from 1992.

Euro 2002

Parity with Sterling continued up until Ireland became part of the ERM in 1979, breaking the link with Sterling. Ireland went on to be a founding member of the Euro zone in 2002, which lead to the replacement of the Irish Pound in circulation by the Euro. The last Irish note to be issued was a £50 note, dated 8 March, 2001.

Dates on Irish banknotes

One of the more interesting things about Irish banknotes is that every note has a date on it. This gives collectors a lot of extra scope for planning their collecting of old Irish money. The reason for the dates is security, with each date corresponding to a particular prefix or group of prefixes. aims to presents an image of every date of each of the banknote series.

The Lavery Legal Tender Notes (A Series) are widely regarded as being one of the great world series of banknotes, being issued more or less unchanged for nearly 70 years, from 1928 to 1977. They have consistently been the most popular series of old Irish Pounds among Irish collectors.

In addition to these, the Ploughman series (1929 - 1941) is also an attractive and highly sought-after series of old Irish money. Both series fall within the interest of Commonwealth collectors.

During the second world war a special marking was added to Legal Tender notes, of a letter in a circle, creating an interesting variation to the basic design, the Irish War Code Notes.

Books on Old Irish Banknotes

Occasional books on Irish bank notes are available directly and from some numismatic booksellers. Some out of print books are also available. A regular soft cover catalogue of Irish notes, 'Irish Banknotes, Irish Papermoney 1928 - 2001', is updated approximately once every three years. The fifth edition will be available in early 2024.

Irish World War 2 banknotes

Available now: Irish World War 2 War Code Notes

Scatter Risk and Special Markings

The Irish World War II 'War Code' Banknote Issues, 1940 - 1944

A book on the world war 2 banknote issues of Ireland which reveals the full Story Behind the Creation of the Irish Wartime Banknote Issues, based on records in the Central Bank of Ireland archives.

war codes book

Special Sections and Articles

Articles on Irish Currency

The Transition of Irish Currency, Irish banknotes 1918–1928
The Partition of Irish Currency, Irish banknotes 1928–1930
Banknote Design Evolution 1824 to 1916
Irish Three Pound Notes
Contemporary Forgeries of Early Irish Banknotes, ca1800-1930
Limerick Soviet Notes
Irish World War 2 Banknote Issues

Design and Security of Irish Banknotes

A Series Irish Ten Shilling Notes
B Series 100 Pound Note

Special Sections on Irish Currency

Low Number Irish Banknotes
Irish Joint Stock Banks of Note Issue from 1783
Irish Legal Tender Note Specimens
Ploughman Scan Survey (PSS)

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