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2000 Ireland Official Millennium Seven Piece Set

Summary
ID Number: 5315
Category: Modern Bank of Ireland Sets
Catalogue Number: Last Coins of Ireland before Euro includes Broighter Boat Coin
Grade: Specially selected Unc
Date: 2000 Millennium Set of 7 Pieces
Price: $150.
Additional Details
Central Bank of Ireland, Official Millennium 2000 Seven Piece Collector's Set.   Ireland's last coinage before the introduction of the Euro coinage in 2002, there being no coinage issued in 2001.  One of each denomination, harp and animal theme, circulating in Ireland, 1 pence Celtic Bird, 2 pence Celtic Bird, 5 pence Bull, 10 pence Salmon, 20 pence Horse, 50 pence Woodcock, and one punt Harp and Millennium Broighter Boat.  A one punt harp and Red Deer coin was issued, aso in 2000, but was not issued as part of this set, but is available separately for $10.  Coins are specially selected business strikes in a beautiful folder.  Only 10,000 Sets Issued.

The design of the Millennium One Punt was by Alan Ardiff and Garrett Stokes.  They faced a heavy challenge on many fronts, and they excelled on all.  The bar for Irish coin design had been set rather high by poet W.B.Yeats and artist Pearcy Metcalf's harp and animal design of 1927, introduced to Ireland's circulating coinage in 1928.  The millennium need was to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ in a secular manner.  Departing from the seventy plus year successful animal theme was an adventure in design.  First, the subject matter was the Broighter Boat, a model ship found in Feb, 1896 in Broighter, Co. Derry, near the shores of Lough Foyle.  This was part of a hoard of seven gold objects of mixed geographic origin, believed to originate in the First Century B.C.  The mast of the ship was used stylistically as the symbol for the cross, with the cross bar canted to give the perspective of looking to the two stars in the field above to the right of the mast of the ship.

This design met the first criteria of being a wholly secular rendition depicting navigation in a boat using the stars, the perfect secular theme for a seafaring nation.  But the scheme lends unshakably to one depicting travel from the ship's origin in the First Century to the Stars, via the Cross.  In 1928 there was criticism, by certain Catholic priests, that the harp and animal coinage was too pagan for the Christian nation of Ireland.  This criticism was silenced by the quiet revelation that the harp was the harp of David, and therefore, the harp of the Psalms.  And any casual reading of the Psalms would find numerous references to the animals, and everything that breathed, praising the Lord. 

Thus, when the Millennium designers departed from the time tested animal theme, they took quite a risk.  The pressure to depict and commemorate a religious theme was far greater in 2000, than in 1927 and 1928.  Everything in this design points to the stars, and again, if one flips the coin to the harp, and ponders, it is still the harp of David.  And if time travel is a not so hidden theme, then the time scheme perhaps needs be broadened, not from the First Century B.C., or even from the time of the psalmist and musician, David, but from the time of the voyager, Abraham, 14 generations earlier, in Genesis 15:5,   " And he brought him forth abroad, and said , Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."

So, it might be said that the Millennium Harp and Broighter Boat design is not so much a departure from the animal theme, but a return to the more basic ancient theme.  One of my favorite coin designs of all time, and the last new Irish coin design prior to the introduction of the Euro.
Photos
Obverse side
Princess Kaiulani Collection
Reverse side
Princess Kaiulani Collection
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