In 1922, Ireland split into the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) and Northern Ireland. The Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) was given dominion status from England under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. That treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British Crown forces. Northern Ireland was still under English rule. The Bank of Ireland loaned the new Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) Government £1 million to help the fledgling organisation. Soon after, the Bank of Ireland was appointed the official bank of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) Government. On February 7, 1922, a historical event marking Irish independence took place: Irish guards replaced the British guards who had guarded the Bank of Ireland’s Parliament Building for over a century.
In 1927, the new Irish Parliament, known as the Dail, passed the “Currency Act”. This act created the Currency Commission of Ireland, set up to advise the government on a monetary system for the new country. The Currency Commission of Ireland’s responsibility was to oversee the issue of a new currency in the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann). The Currency Commission opened their office in the Armoury Building (later becoming the 1st Central Bank), which was part of the Bank of Ireland’s Parliament Building headquarters, the building was originally constructed in approximately 1811. The original architect was Francis Johnston. The building was extensively remodeled in 1928 becoming “The Currency Commission Building”.
In 1928, at the time there were six different banknote series being circulated in Ireland, these were abandoned in favour of a single series of legal tender notes appearing in seven denominations of 10/-, £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100, these became known as the Consolidated Banknote Issue. Each note has a portrait of Lady Lavery – wife of Sir John Lavery the artist, he was commissioned to design this feature. The original oil on canvas painting of Lady Lavery, titled Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan (1927), is displayed at the National Gallery of Ireland on loan from the Central Bank of Ireland. The watermark on all notes of the series is of the “Head of Erin”, which is taken from the John Hogan statue. A watermark of Lady Lavery’s head continued to be used on the Series B(Nótaí bainc sraith B) and Series C (Nótaí bainc sraith C)banknotes until 2002. The reverse of each note features the head of a “River God” representing one of the rivers of Ireland taken from a keystone on the Custom House in Dublin sculpted by Edward Smyth. Rivers in both the Republic and Northern Ireland were chosen.
The Currency Commission also issued a new legal tender series for Northern Ireland known as the Belfast Issue. In Northern Ireland, all six of the earlier banknote series were still being circulated, as well as the new “Belfast Issue” plus English bank notes. In 1937, The Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) became Eire under a new constitution. Eire declared an economic war against England and continued to strive for complete separation. They took a neutral status during World War II and refused to let England use Irish ports. Focusing on ways to secure their independence and strengthen their government and economy.
In 1942, the Irish Parliament passed the Central Bank Act. According to this new act, the Central Bank of Ireland replaced the Currency Commission. In 1943, the Central Bank became the official bank of the Irish Government replacing the Bank of Ireland. The Central Bank became the only bank that could issue currency in Eire. In 1948, John A. Costello was elected Eire’s prime minister. A new constitution ensued, and on April 18, 1949, Eire declared complete independence from England and became The Republic of Ireland. In 1971, the Central Bank of Ireland announced its intention to produce new banknotes to replace the long-serving Lady Lavery issue which was printed by the Bank of England in London and circulating in Ireland since 1928. The Central Bank sub-contracted the design phase to Servicon – an Irish design company, directed to design the notes of the denominations; £1, £5, £10, £20 and £50. The theme chosen for these notes was history of Ireland, and each note featured the portrait of a person with this theme in mind from a particular era from historic to modern, along with relative visual elements. The female head painted by Sir John Lavery was retained from “Series A(Nótaí bainc sraith A)” as a watermark and appeared in the blank space on each design. The £100 note was never issued or circulated so the “Series B(Nótaí bainc sraith B)” never had a £100 note. The Series A (Nótaí bainc sraith A, Lady Lavery) £100 note remained in circulation.
The series C ( Nótaí bainc sraith C) banknotes from Ireland were the final series of banknotes created for the state before the advent of the euro; it replaced the Series B ( Nótaí bainc sraith B) banknotes. The series gradually entered circulation starting in 1992 and remained in circulation until 2002. In 1991 the Central Bank held a limited competition and invited nine Irish artists, they decided on the theme prior to the invitation. Robert Ballagh’s designs were chosen and his designs were used in all 5 notes following a continuous design pattern the denominations; £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100 with no pound note, as there was a coin of this value circulating since 1990. The subject of this series was the people who contributed to the formation of a modern Ireland, and for this purpose includes politicians, a linguistic, literary and religious figure. The new notes incorporated several sophisticated features for security and aids to blind and partially sighted people; characteristics never seen on Irish banknotes until then.
£5 Note the front features Catherine McAuley was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1778. In 1824 she used her inheritance from an Irish couple she had served for twenty years to build a large House of Mercy where she and other lay women would shelter homeless women, reach out to the sick and dying and educate poor girls. The House on Baggot Street opened in 1827. Catherine and her companions continued their work as lay women. Catherine McAuley never intended to found a community of religious women. Her intention was to assemble a lay corps of Catholic social workers. In 1828 the archbishop permitted the staff of the institute to assume a distinctive dress and to publicly visit the sick. The uniform adopted was a black dress and cape of the same material reaching to the belt, a white collar and a lace cap and veil, in the same year the archbishop requested Miss McAuley to choose some name by which the little community might be known, and she called it the “Sisters of Mercy”, having the design of making the works of mercy the distinctive feature of the institute. Before her death on 11 November 1841, Catherine founded convents and works of mercy throughout Ireland and England. In 1851 Sr. Vincent Whitty, one of Catherine’s early companions, purchased land in Eccles Street and began the development of the Mater Hospital which opened in 1861.
£10 Note features James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882–1941) an Irish novelist and poet, the background features Dublin and Wicklow, particularly Dublin Bay. The reverse of the note shows one of the heads in Edward Smyth’s The Custom House, Dublin. The head is one of fourteen and is believed to represent the River Liffey. Also included is a 19th century map and part of “Finnegans Wake”. Joyce was born in 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin into a middle-class family. A brilliant student, he attended the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere but held a secret aversion to Catholicism which turned into open warfare (as he himself put it) in later life. In 1904, in his early twenties he emigrated permanently to continental Europe with his partner Nora Barnacle. They lived in Trieste, Paris, and Zurich. One of the most influential writers of the early 20th century, Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.
£20 note features a portrait of Daniel O’Connell, who served as mayor of Dublin from 1841 to 1842; the background features Derrynane Abbey, County Kerry. The reverse of the note features a compromise signed in 1845 by several of the earliest Irish statesmen, with the Four Courts in the background. In an 1815 speech, O’Connell referred to “The Corpo,” as it was commonly referred to, as a “beggarly corporation.” Its members and leaders were outraged and because O’Connell would not apologise, one of their numbers, the noted duellist D’Esterre, challenged him. The duel had filled Dublin Castle (from where the British Government administered Ireland) with tense excitement at the prospect that O’Connell would be killed. They regarded O’Connell as “worse than a public nuisance,” and would have welcomed any prospect of seeing him removed at this time. O’Connell met D’Esterre and mortally wounded him, (he was shot in the hip, the bullet then lodging in his stomach), in a duel. Hating violence, this act filled him with deep regret. Not only had he killed a man, but he had left his family almost destitute. O’Connell offered to “share his income” with D’Esterre’s widow, but she declined, but consented to accept an allowance for her daughter, which he regularly paid for more than thirty years until his death. The memory of the duel haunted him for the remainder of his life.
After the passing of the emancipation act in 1829, Connolly turned his attention to the anti-slavery campaign to end slavery within the British Empire. He was also outspokenly critical of slavery in the United States, and spoke against forms of bondage and tyranny wherever they were practiced. He saw liberty both as a human right and as God’s intent for all people, regardless of colour, “whether black, white or red”. The American’s were false in pretending to be “friends of liberty” when they denied the freedom of the black man. They declared that “every man was equal in the presence of God – that every man had an inalienable right to liberty” but denied this to those of colour. He hated slavery and bondage in any shape; “the slavery of the Poles in Russia under their miscreant rule, and the slavery of the unfortunate men of colour under their fellow men, the boasted friends of liberty in the United States.” O’Connell saw men where some saw a sub-human species. His passion to end slavery was rooted in his religious faith: “Slavery is a high crime against heaven, and its annihilation ought not to be postponed.” When he called ” for justice in the name of the living God” it would, he said, “find an echo in the breast of every human being.” America’s slave-owners were “the basest of the base, the most execrable of the execrable.” He once refused to show a visiting American around the House of Commons when he discovered that he was from a slave-state. From 1832, he championed William Lloyd Garrison’s anti-slavery movement in the USA. In 1845, he hosted a visit to Dublin by Frederick Douglas with whom he shared a platform at Liberty Call in what is now O’Connell St. However, his anti-slave campaign did not attract the support of the American Irish and financial assistance towards the nationalist cause was cut as a result. Liggio points out how “O’Connell stood steadfast in his commitment to abolish human slavery even when it undermined his lifelong ambition to achieve home rule for Ireland.”
£50 Note features Douglas Hyde, Ireland’s first president; the background features Áras an Uachraráin against the inside of the base of the Ardagh Chalice. The reverse of the banknote features a flute player and the Conradh na Gaeilge stamp. Also included is an excerpt from a 16th century manuscript preserved by the Royal Irish Academy. Douglas Hyde (in Irish, Dubhghlas de hÍde) is best known for serving as the first President of Ireland from from 25 June, 1938 to 24 June, 1945. Born the son of a Church of Ireland rector at Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon, Ireland on 17 January, 1860, Hyde dedicated his life to the study and revival of the Irish language. He was the cofounder (along with Eoin Mac Néill) of the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) on the 31 July 1893, and was its first and longest serving President until his resignation in 1915.Under Hyde’s leadership, the Gaelic League was enormously successful, reinvigorating an Irish language community which was under severe cultural pressure and encouraging large numbers of people to learn and use the Irish language at a time when this was very difficult.
On retiring from the League, Hyde dedicated himself full-time to academia, serving as University College Dublin’s first professor of Modern Irish from 1909-32, and as a Senator for 2 short periods in 1925 and 1938. After the ratifaction of the new Irish Constitution in 1937, Douglas Hyde was the unanimous choice of all parties, and was elected unopposed as the first President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann). He served one seven-year term, retiring from the presidential residence Áras an Uachtaráin, to another house in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. He died there on 12 July 1949.
£100 Note features Charles Stewart Parnell; background shows a view of his residence Avondale House of Rathdrum, County Wicklow. A hound also appears. The reverse of the note shows part of the Parnell Monument, O’Connell Street, Dublin. Parnell’s signature is the one he used in response to the autonomy bill.
Charles Stewart Parnell, (born June 27, 1846, Avondale, County Wicklow, Ire.—died Oct. 6, 1891, Brighton, Sussex, Eng.), Irish Nationalist, member of the British Parliament (1875–91), and the leader of the struggle for Irish Home Rule in the late 19th century. Charles Stewart Parnell’s most famous quote, first uttered at speech in Cork Opera House, 21 January 1885; “No man has the right to fix a boundary to the march of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country: Thus far shalt thou go and no further.” the same quote graces his monument in O’Connell Street. At the end of his speech in cork, he said “We shall not do anything to hinder or prevent better people who may come after us from gaining better things than those for which we now contend.”
During the period 1886–90, Parnell continued to pursue Home Rule, striving to reassure British voters that it would be no threat to them. In Ireland, unionist resistance (especially after the Irish Unionist Party was formed) became increasingly organised. Parnell pursued moderate and conciliatory tenant land purchase and still hoped to retain a sizeable landlord support for home rule. During the agrarian crisis, which intensified in 1886 and launched the Plan of Campaign organised by Parnell’s lieutenants, he chose in the interest of Home Rule not to associate himself with it.
All that remained, it seemed, was to work out details of a new home rule bill with Gladstone. They held two meetings, one in March 1888 and a second more significant meeting at Gladstone’s home in Hawarden on 18–19 December 1889. On each occasion, Parnell’s demands were entirely within the accepted parameters of Liberal thinking, Gladstone noting that he was one of the best people he had known to deal with, a remarkable transition from an inmate at Kilmainham to an intimate at Hawarden in just over seven years. This was the high point of Parnell’s career. In the early part of 1890, he still hoped to advance the situation on the land question.