Irish Banknotes

Irish Banknotes for sale (coming soon)

  • Since most popular social media platforms are now actively reducing the sharing of information, the best way to ensure you receive this Monthly Sales Sheet is to email me at the link below:


This website is updated on a frequent basis, so do please ‘re-visit’ as often as you can.

We also:

  • Buy old Irish coinage and banknotes
  • Value and buy leftover holiday currency
  • Advise people on how best to sell their collections, attic finds and inheritances

This particular page is intended as a catalogue and image library of Irish banknotes.  By way of illustrating what we buy and sell, please link to our Pinterest image pages and/or read the relevant blog posts on Irish banknote topics.

Republic of Ireland, National Bond, Twenty Dollars, 1867, The Old Currency Exchange is Ireland's leading retailer for collectible banknotes, coins and tokens. best good shop for Irish coins and banknotes, Dublin, Ireland

Republic of Ireland, National Bond, Twenty Dollars, 1867, no. 373 1373, O’Sullivan-Scanlan signatures

Please note: this is a constant “work in progress” and I will be adding more links + more images on an on-going basis.  Collectors are quite welcome to send me images of banknotes that I do not already have, or better images of the one’s I have posted.  The idea behind this page is that we have a reference point to share.

Irish Banknotes

  • Proto-Banknotes

The origins of Irish banking can be traced back as far as the 17th C in Dublin where the Dublin Guild of Goldsmiths (now the only surviving medieval guild in Dublin) issued receipts for deposits of coins. At that time, most of the coins in circulation were either badly clipped (reduced in weight/value) or were forgeries. In order to keep the good coins, the bad coins were released back into circulation, along with bank receipts which were acceptable for making payments within the walled city itself and the surrounding liberties. Thus, the concept and practice of ‘paper money’ began in Dublin. When the goldsmiths began to provide loans and credit, a banking system began to develop. Two of the earliest Dublin goldsmiths to provide ‘banking’ services were :-

  • Joseph Demar
    • Born in England in 1630, fought for Parliament during the English Civil War, sold his land in England and moved to France, and arrived in Dublin in 1661. His offices were in the London Tavern on Fishamble Street and, by the time Jonathan Swift wrote his poem (Elegy on the much lamented death of Mr Demar, the famous rich usurer), Joseph Demar was infamous for his greed. He ran his private bank until his death in 1720
  • Edward Hoare
    • The Hoare family were an important merchant family in Cork and Edward Hoare established his bank c. 1673
  • Early Irish Banknotes

The Irish economy developed rapidly in the late 18th C and, in response to increased demand for agricultural produce, the essential stimulus for the formation of a modern banking system finally arrived.

The Bank of Ireland was established in 1782 as a national bank but despite its massive resources and virtual monopoly it did not establish branches either within Dublin or in the country towns.

  • This gap was filled by an increasing number of small, private banks.
  • These small banks were severely restricted via unlimited liability and not being allowed more than six partners
    • There was a huge number of small private banks by the year 1800.
    • Despite their numbers and their initial success, few managed to acquire sufficient capital to ensure stability
    • These small banks were vulnerable in a period of economic change.
    • Most of them failed in the ‘deflation and depression’ period after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815

Their banknotes display a myriad of designs, denominations, signatures and placenames. As such, these early Irish banknotes provide students of notophily, economics, politics and history with a wealth of subject matter. Sadly, the history of Irish banking and its banknotes is littered with failure, fraud, embezzlement and looting (as can be seen from the following links.  It illustrates why self-regulation is even worse than no regulation, and why constant monitoring and strict financial regulation with enforceable penalties is necessary.

Many of Ireland’s early banks depended for their survival on the issue of banknotes.  Each denomination had its own serial numbers and every note was signed by the chief cashier.  Careful records were kept of issued and returned notes, so that duplicated serial numbers (indicating forgery) would be spotted, and lost or damaged notes could be accounted for.

In 1845, a period of financial crisis prompted new legislation to regulate the issue of notes.  Only six Irish banks were authorised to issue banknotes and this new law allowed notes in ’round pounds’ only, so banks had to withdraw (over time) any of their banknotes in guineas, fractional guineas and such oddities as 25s, 30s and 35s denominations.  The ability to print their own banknotes gave these banks a huge commercial advantage over their new and emerging 19th C rivals.

In 1920 the Banknotes (Ireland) Act ended the practice of making notes payable only at specific branches. Instead, notes could be redeemed at a bank’s head office. This meant there was no need for banks to list all of their branches on their banknotes any more – just the location of the bank’s principal offices. In line with this new legislation, most banks issued a new series of banknotes from 1920 onward.

  • Political Notes & Bonds

  • A-Series (Currency Commission of Ireland – Sterling)

Currency Commission Saorstat Eireann

The Currency Commission (Coimisiún Airgid Reatha) of the Irish Free State, was created by the Currency Act, 1927 (Section 14) as part of the policy of the Irish Free State to set up and issue its own currency, sometimes known as the ‘Saorstát pound’. The Currency Commission commissioned the “A Series” Banknotes, through the advice of an advisory commission.

  • Link: Currency Act, 1927
  • It also issued the Ploughman series of banknotes for Irish banks, which circulated until 1953
  • The Chairman of the Currency Commission was Joseph Brennan

On the adoption of the Constitution of Ireland in 1937 the Currency Commission of the Irish Free State became the Currency Commission of Ireland. In 1942 the Currency Commission was superseded by the Central Bank of Ireland.

  • The Consolidated Banks (Ploughman) Series

This series of banknotes were never legal tender notes but essentially equivalent to “promissory notes” that continue to be issued today by some banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland.  These notes were first issued between 6 May and 10 June 1929 on the proviso that the eight banks operating in the Irish Free State withdrew their previously issued notes from circulation and ceased to issue their own notes.

  • O’Brien Banknote Price Guide 2016: Ploughman £1 notes
  • O’Brien Banknote Price Guide 2016: Ploughman £5 notes
  • O’Brien Banknote Price Guide 2016: Ploughman £10 notes
  • O’Brien Banknote Price Guide 2016: Ploughman £20, £50 and 100 notes


The consolidated bank notes were only issued by the Currency Commission of Ireland and the last notes were printed in 1941.  As such, it was a period of transition whereby a new Central Bank was set up by the newly independent Irish Free State. It also meant that the Bank of Ireland stopped acting as an intermittent, quasi-central bank.  These beautiful notes were officially withdrawn on 31 December 1953. These Irish banks continued to issue their own notes in Northern Ireland – albeit with new designs.

  • A-Series (Central Bank of Ireland – Irish Pounds)

The main difference between these notes and previous versions is the disappearance of the panels stating that this note was “Payable on Demand in London” and the word Sterling.  All banknotes issued by the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland between 1928 and 1977 were Sterling notes and guaranteed by the Bank of England – based on Ireland’s ‘specie’ holdings in London.  They were also printed by the Bank of England in London.

Sterling panel - £1

  • B-Series

This series of notes was commissioned by the Central Bank of Ireland and circulated between 1976 and 1982.  The theme chosen for these notes was history of Ireland – each note featured a person from a particular era from early medieval to modern.  The Lady Lavery portrait, from Series A, was retained as a watermark.  A £100 note was designed but was never issued or circulated.  In 1976, Ireland broke from Sterling and ‘floated’ (with mixed results) as an independent currency.  They also coincided with the opening of the new (Irish) Mint run by the Central Bank at Sandyford, Co Dublin.

  • C-Series

This series of notes is known as “Series C” and the designs are the output from a limited competition held in 1991 in which nine Irish artists were invited – the winner was Robert Ballagh. This series of notes had denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100 – with no pound note, since there a coin of this value circulating since 1990. The £20 was the first to be issued, following widespread forgery of the Series B (W.B. Yeats) £20 note.  The theme for this series was people who contributed to the formation of a modern Ireland, and features politicians, a language, literary and religious figures.

We buy current, recent and old banknotes

We buy banknotes from all over the world. This includes Irish, British, European and all countries worldwide. We especially like older (vintage) banknotes but will gladly accept your old holiday change, or accumulations in old wallets, junk boxes and attic clearances. Please note, some countries make their banknotes obsolete every 10 years or so, and these banknotes are no longer legal tender for foreign exchange purposes, e.g. Canada and Switzerland change their banknotes regularly to prevent counterfeiting and tax evasion.

sell, buy, value, evaluate, appraise, old, vintage, banknotes, currency, collect, collector, collectible, ireland, irish, world, foreign. The Old Currency Exchange is Ireland's leading retailer for collectible banknotes, coins and tokens. best good shop for Irish coins and banknotes, Dublin, Ireland


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2 thoughts on “Irish Banknotes

  1. i want to change old bank notes and coins , as i never had a passport , i cant do it at central bank , im irish , i work at the guarda barricks , im living in mayo ,i have a social wlefare card with my picture on it how can i exchange them


    • You do not need a passport – a drivers licence or social welfare photo ID should suffice.
      Just go to the Central bank in Dublin and ask them to lodge the money into your bank a/c if the total is more than €100.
      If the total is less than €100, they will exchange your notes and coins for immediate cash.
      The new rules were introduced to reduce money laundering, so it doesn’t really affect most people.
      The staff at the Central Bank are really nice and they usually go out of their way to be helpful, so don’t worry.
      Bring along your Garda ID if you feel it might help but I’m confident it will be a painless process.

      Alternatively, you could bring your cash to a dealer.
      If your banknotes are in ‘uncirculated’ condition (look like they are new), a dealer will pay more than their face value.
      If you scan them and attach to an email, I will let you know if you should go to a dealer.
      You can email me at


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