Did you know that WB Yeats the poets selected the first Irish coins ?

I didn’t until someone recently told me and I researched further on the subject. Here is what I learned.

In 1926 the government of the newly founded Irish Free State formed a coinage committee to plan for a new Irish coinage. The chairman of the committee was the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

The government decision had already been taken to issue a sterling currency rather than to establish an independent Irish currency.

It was determined that people associated with “the present time” should not be incorporated on any designs, no doubt due to the deep divisions carved by the Irish Civil War. It was later decided that anything with religious or cultural connotations should be avoided because this might have led to coins becoming relics or medals. At the time, and for centuries previously, agriculture was essential to the economy of Ireland and this theme was decided upon for the coins, which used designs featuring animals and birds.

After some deliberation the committee decided that the Irish harp would be used as the national symbol on the coinage as it had been since the 1530’s.

cufflinks for men

cufflinks for men

A competition was organised and a number of well known sculptors and coin designers were invited to submit patterns for the coinage to the committee. A prize was to be awarded to the winning artist.

The design chosen for the common obverse was of a 16 string Irish harp modelled on the ‘Brian Boru’ harp in Trinity College Dublin. The legend Saorstat Eireann (Irish Free State, in Irish) surrounds, and the date is divided either side of the harp.

Yeats set out – that it should be “beautiful, intelligible and appropriate in meaning for the people of the country and foreigners