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Then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern having a laugh with Jim and Marian O'Neill at their newsagents shop where he spent his first euro on 1 January 2002 after the changeover from punts. Paul Faith/PA Wire

£283m of punts still in circulation

While £2m of punts were exchanged between mid-February and mid-March, over 7.5 per cent of all old Irish currency is still out there…

CHECK DOWN THE side of the sofa – there is still £283 million of Irish pound currency knocking around the country.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan told Sligo-North Leitrim TD Tony McLoughlin (FG) just before the Dáil broke for Easter that there remained £185m of banknotes and £98m of coins in punts still in circulation. This figure was correct on 15 March.

The total – £283 million, worth €359m – is a full 7.5 per cent of the value of the punts notes and coins that were in circulation at the end of 2001. The euro was introduced to Ireland on 1 January 2002 – and by 9 February 2002, the punt ceased to be legal tender.

Don’t panic though – at the moment there is no deadline on the Central Bank accepting an exchange of punts for euro. However, it’s worth keeping an eye out on the situation – the Central Bank has said that the exchange facility costs €368,600 to run every year and that at some point, it may have to review the provision of the service.

In February, the Central Bank said that it was still exchanging just over €10,000 a day from punts to euro. (At that revelation, Justice Minister Alan Shatter had to move to assuage fears that such a large figure had anything to so with criminal activity.)

Around £2m worth of punts have been exchanged between mid-February and mid-March this year.

Do you think your punts might be worth something to a coin collector? Sadly, unless they are in mint condition – ie, were never used in circulation, and were a special edition coin, eg, the 1988 Dublin Millennium 50p – you’re not likely to get more than face value for them.

This collectors’ site,, has interesting tables that put a guesstimate value on punt coins. One note from the author says that one coin to look out for, and which is “extremely rare” is a 20p coin, dated 1985:

In 1985 prior to the introduction of the new twenty pence piece in 1986, a quantity of coins dated 1985 were struck for testing. Some of these coins escaped being melted down and are in private hands. I have heard of only a very small number of exchanges of these coin and the prices I have heard for them varied widely. I believe that the minimum number identified in collections (as opposed to sitting gathering dust somewhere without its value being understood by its owner) is four.

So if you have that coin… do let us know.

Read: Imperfect 10 – The euro was introduced a decade ago today>

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