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Ballykinlar Camp Tokens 1921 - Limerick Soviet Notes 1919 - RoMa Local Currency Tokens 1999

RoMa Local Currency Tokens

Issued in Ballyhaunis for Local Use

RoMa Local Currency Tokens, July–August 1999

The RoMa token was a local currency system invented by Gerry McGarry [1], an Irish engineer and social activist in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Ireland, to encourage the businesses in his area to do more trade among themselves and to raise money for local charities.

An RTE Television documentary broadcast in 1999, 'Community Currency In Action' covers the issue of the tokens [2]. The first issue notes were dated 23.08.99, a date of maturity, two months after their time of issue. Those in possession of the tokens could present them for payment in Irish Pounds for a period of one month after the date printed on them. Notes not presented for payment within one month of their date of maturity expired and lost their value.

Western Care and the local Gaelic Athletic Association were the two organisations sponsored under the first issue of RoMa. 92 local businesses became sponsors of the currency. This produced 92 varieties of the notes, by sponsor.

It appears that the two organisations being sponsored were supplied with RoMa notes overprinted in the name of the sponsors. The sponsored organisations would then spend the tokens in any shop or business which was a sponsor and accepted the RoMa in payment.

Circulation and validity

The first notes went into circulation in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo in 1999. They were withdrawn two months later on their maturity date.

The intention was that the notes of each issue would circulate for two months and then be withdrawn on a specific date printed on the notes, when payment would fall due. The notes expired one month after the redemption ‘maturity’ date, becoming worthless.

This system ensured that the notes would be presented for payment within a specific time frame, and would thus produce a return for the sponsored causes, and that there would not be a need for the issuer of the notes to maintain a perpetual backing fund equal to the amount of RoMa notes outstanding.

RoMa Denominations

Only a denomination of One Roma has been seen or referenced. They were exchangeable at a rate of 1 Roma = 1 Irish Pound.

A portrait in black of Michael Davitt (1846–1906), founder of the Irish Land League [3], is the centre piece on the face of the Roma notes. Roma were printed in two colours on slightly glossy A4 paper stock, probably 100gsm weight. The prefix and 4 digit number were added separately. The guarantor and name of the supportee were added together in an overprint on the blank token using a domestic printer.

1500 notes were printed, of which approximately 10% were never presented for redemption.

Eight examples have been recorded. Prefixes B, D, E, F plus 4 digit serial numbers have been seen on these. All 8 examples seen were numbered with four digits starting with 29. This might suggest a security measure whereby all notes were numbered starting with 29, giving 100 notes per prefix.

Dimensions: 146 x 70 mm.

One Roma, sponsored by Alma's, in support of Western Care

One Roma, sponsored by Alma's, in support of Western Care.

Common reverse on all RoMa tokens
Common reverse on all RoMa tokens.

'Failte roimh an RoMa' RoMa welcom sign
Each supporting business or organisation displayed the 'Failte roimh an RoMa' (RoMa welcom) sign. The date of maturity is printed on each token note, a date two months after issue.

RoMa banknote
Ballyhaunis Roma note 1999
Roma Token
Examples of different prefixes and sponsors.


1. The Ecology of Money: A low-cost way to start a regional currency. Roma currency system. [Last accessed 17.11.21].
2. RTE Archives: 'Community Currency In Action' [Last accessed 17.11.21].

3. Michael Davitt (1846-1906). [Last accessed 17.11.21].

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