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Visiting Ireland: money matters

Ireland currency issues. Sterling and Euro. Using credit cards.

Ireland's money systems

If you're planning a visit to Ireland, money issues need consideration before you set off. Perhaps the most fundamental issue is that there are two currencies in operation across the island. The Republic of Ireland is in the Eurozone while Northern Ireland, being part of the UK, uses Pound Sterling (see below, right-hand column).

Specimen Ireland €20 note.

Gothic architecture: the €20 note

Republic of Ireland money: Euro notes

Specimen 10 Euro note.

Romanesque: the red €10 note

Specimen €200 note.

Rarely seen: the yellow €100 note
The Euro became the fully fledged Irish currency on 1st January 2002.

Euro bank notes are available in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50 and €100. In practice, €100 (as well as €200 and€500) notes are rarely accepted except in banks.

The notes are standardised across all the Eurozone and reflect architectural styles from Classical to Modern. As a set, they show windows, gateways and bridges, but none are images of actual constructions.

A serial number appears on the back of each note. It begins with a letter or country code that indicates the commissioning central bank. The letter 'T' is the code for Ireland's central bank.

Republic of Ireland money: Euro coinage

A 2Euro coin.

Everyone's favourite: €2
The Euro (€) is made up of 100 cents (c) and coins are issued in eight denominations, the highest value being €2. This attractive coin has a gold centre within a silver band.

This two-colour style is repeated in the smaller €1 coin except with a silver heart within a gold band.

While the 10c, 20c, and 50c coins are golden coloured, the small 1c, 2c and 5c coins are copper coloured.

Although many Eurozone countries chose to have two or more designs across their coinage, the Government of Ireland decided to have a single national design across all Irish euro coins.

They show a stylised Celtic harp (designed by Jarlath Hayes), decorated with the year of minting and the inscription 'Eire'. This continues a tradition dating back to 1536 when the harp made its first appearance on Ireland's money.

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Credit cards/Travellers' cheques

Cash or credit : Credit cards are widely used in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but charge cards only rarely. It is always best to check in advance in restaurants and hotels.

Major hotels may cash travellers cheques (again, it's wise not to assume this service is available) and nearly all cash machines ('hole in the walls') will allow withdrawals from credit cards.

Northern Ireland money: Sterling

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and so uses sterling (£). Some shops (but only a minority) in the border counties may accept either currency.

Sterling GB£ : Sterling banknotes are available in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations, although the larger note is not always accepted due to the number of forgeries in circulation.

The largest coin is the £2 which has a silver centre within a gold band. The £1 coin is smaller and golden while the 50p (pence) coin is hexagonal and silver. Other denominations are 1p and 2p (both copper coloured) and the silver 5p, 10p and 20p coins.

Architectural euro
Euro banknotes show images of architectural styles through the ages.

  • €5: Classical
  • €10: Romanesque
  • €20: Gothic
  • €50: Renaissance
  • €100:Baroque/Rococco
  • €200: Glass & steel
  • €500:Modern 20th century

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By Claire Santry, Copyright© 2008-2016 Dedicated to helping YOU discover your Irish Heritage.
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