Bank reveals €350m worth of old Irish money has yet to be exchanged

Hundreds of millions of euros worth of old Irish money is still yet to be exchanged since the Irish state converted to euros eighteen years ago.

The Central Bank of Ireland has revealed that around €350 million of old Irish money known as the ‘punt’ remains to be unaccounted for since the country swapped currencies in 2002.

The bank stated that the sum comprises more than €224 million worth of punt banknotes and over €123 million in old Irish coins. One punt is worth around €1.27.

History of the punt

Old Irish money, or known as the punt shown here, is yet to be exchanged.
Credit: silentsleeper83 / Instagram

Following the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the south of Ireland introduced its own currency six years later in 1928 and was worth the same as the British sterling was at the time.

For the first half-century, the punt used the same system as the British sterling of £sd, translated into Irish as ‘punt’ for pound, ‘scilling’ for shilling, and ‘pingin’ for penny.

An exchange rate was introduced on the 30th of March 1979 and was the first time the link was broken between the Irish pound and the British pound.

Switch of currencies

When Ireland joined the Eurozone they changed from old Irish money to euro, plenty of punt are yet to be exchanged.

As members of the European Union (EU), Ireland joined the eurozone along with other European nations in 1999, but it was not until 2002 that the Irish state finally adopted the Euro currency, and the Euro became legal tender on the 9th of February 2002.

90% of the punt was switched to the Euro currency in the first year, which left around €463 million worth of old banknotes and coins remaining.

Convert to euro

Old Irish money was replaced with the European Euro, and there's 350 million is yet exchanged.

The Central Bank allows for people to convert any old punt currency that they have into euro at their headquarters on the North Wall Quay in Dublin. You must first visit the Central Bank website and fill in the relevant forms before sending these forms away with the respective punt notes or coins.

This does not come in the form of a direct exchange. Instead, the Bank will provide a Euro transfer to the bank account that the consumer lists on the form they must fill in when exchanging the old Irish money.

The Central Bank is required by law to make provision for the possibility that all of the remaining €350 million worth of punt will be returned for exchange. The old notes returned are shredded and recycled, while the coins are melted down for reuse. 

Remaining old Irish money may never be exchanged

The Central Bank of Ireland is where you bring the your old Irish money yet to be exchanged.
Credit: @centralbank_ie / Twitter

The value of punts redeemed has been on a gradual decrease from 2014, when €1.8 million worth of punt was redeemed. In 2019, the amount redeemed amounted to €0.8 million, as of the 18th of December 2019.

While the remaining punt is worth a significant amount in Euros, the Central Bank is pessimistic and believes that the majority of the old Irish money will be left unaccounted for and not be exchanged.

In the first decade following the switch of currencies, around 150 people a week visited the Central Bank to convert their old Irish money, but the numbers doing so now sits at a negligible amount.

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