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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 18 August 2022

We've found 73 MILLION old £20 notes behind the couch since the euro arrived

€4.1 billion in punts, overall. That’s a hell of a lot of Communion money.

00002316 Source:

THE CENTRAL BANK has exchanged a staggering €4.1 billion worth of old Irish pounds since the euro came into circulation on 1 January, 2002.

The total figure, £3.24 billion, is the equivalent of €5.7 million every week, or €820,000 a day, for almost 13 years, although the overwhelming majority of it was returned within the first 12 months.

We are still apparently finding punts around the place, however, with more than €1 million being paid out since the beginning of 2015, in return for £872,682.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan this week published the new figures, in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin.

Since 2002, the Central Bank on Dublin’s Dame St has been taking old Irish pounds from the public, at a fixed exchange rate of 0.787564.

This means £100 will get you €127. If you’re exchanging up to £100, you’ll get your euros back in cash, over the counter.

But for anything above that, you have to present your photo ID, fill out this form, and the money will be transferred electronically into your bank account.

You can also send your manky fivers in the post – all the instructions are here.

00030603 People queuing outside the Central Bank on New Year's morning, 2002. Source:

In 2002, the first year of the euro in Ireland, we handed in £3,184,714,329 in return for €4,043,753,052 – the equivalent of more than €1,000 for every man, woman and child in the country at that time.

It included:

  • £311.50 in coins less than €1
  • 319,707 one-pound coins
  • 14,708,522 five-pound notes (£73,542,610)
  • 17,774,324 ten-pound notes (£177,743,240)
  • 72,611,398 twenty-pound notes (£1,452,227,960)
  • 27,711,336 fifty-pound notes (£1,385,566,800)
  • 953,137 hundred-pound notes (£95,313,700)

oldpunts Source: Central Bank

According to Minister Noonan, the number of annual transactions has been about 1,300 over the last few years.

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That works out at an average of roughly €1,125 per exchange.

You might think that, after £3.24 billion worth of jacket pockets, we’ve run out of punts.

But according to figures obtained by this website back in 2013, there was €231.3 million still lying around.

Which would indicate that, as of today, there is still €228.7 million worth of punts at large in Ireland.

So – check behind the couch (again).

Read: Central Bank still exchanging €10k worth of punts every day>

Read: Zimbabwe is now exchanging 40 US cents for $100,000,000,000,000>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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