O’Brien Coin Guide: The Irish Decimal Twopence


In 1971, Ireland decimalised its currency in parallel with the UK.  We did this because we were tied to the UK Pound at that time and, of course, all of our coins were minted at the Royal Mint in the UK.  Decimalisation also brought all of our coins back in line with the UK coin specifications, i.e. some of the Irish pre-decimal coins were different from their UK counterparts, e.g. the threepence and sixpence.  Both the threepence and sixpence were discontinued.

The twopence (2p) (Irish: dhá phingin) coin was the third smallest denomination of the Irish (decimal) pound. It was first issued when the Irish currency was decimalised on Decimal Day, 15 February 1971. The coin was minted until 2000. It was the third of three new designs introduced all in bronze, the others being the halfpenny and penny. All featured ornamental birds on the reverse.

1971 Ireland decimal twopence

1971 Ireland decimal twopence. The coin was designed by the Irish artist Gabriel Hayes and the design is adapted from the Second Bible of Charles the Baldheld at Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris..

Value 2 pence
Mass 7.12 g
Diameter 25.91 mm
Thickness (Bronze) 1.85 mm
(Steel) 2.03 mm
Edge Plain
Composition Bronze (1971–1989) – an alloy of copper, tin and zinc
Copper-plated steel (1990–2000)

In 1990 the decision was taken to produce the coin on a copper plated steel base since bronze had become too expensive. The steel-based coins are magnetic and, for some, it is a quick (and fun) way to sort the coins, i.e. use a big magnet to lift the 1990’s coins out of the mixtures. After reducing the size of the five and ten pence coins introduced in the early 1990s, the two pence coin was the fourth largest Irish coin, with only the twenty and fifty pence and the pound coin coins being larger in the series.

Year Mintage
1971 75,500,000
1975 20,000,000
1976   5,400,000
1978 12,000,000
1979 32,400,000
1980 58,000,000
1982 30,400,000
1985 14,500,000
1986 23,900,000
1988 35,900,000
1990 34,200,000
1992 10,200,000
1995 55,500,000
1996 69,300,000
1998 33,700,000
2000 66,960,000
  • The 2p coin, alongwith all of the other decimal coins, was withdrawn for the euro in 2000
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