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The Bull Of Éire: 1 Shilling (Ireland, 1959)-Article

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

This coin is a pre-decimal Irish Penny, dated 1959. The Irish Shilling represented the third largest denomination of the pre-decimal Irish Pound. With the Florin (1/10th Pound) and Half-Crown (1/8th Pound), representing the larger denominations. The pre-decimal Schilling entered circulation in 1928 and was last minted in 1968. It ceased being legal currency on 31 December 1971, replaced by the Irish Five Pence.

The coin is a plain-edged design made of a copper-nickel (75 Copper/25% Nickel) and weighs 5.66 g. Its dimensions are 23.6 mm (0.929 in) wide and 2 mm (0.079 in) thick. This coin will be reviewed reverse first, note the observe (Harp) is often mistaken for the reverse (Bull).


The Irish Bull reverse was designed English artist Percy Metcalfe, CVO, RDI. Notably the bull representing Ulster's prized bull Donn Cúailnge, from the epic Táin Bó Cúailnge. Popularly regarded as the "Irish Iliad", Táin Bó Cúailnge plays a prominent role in the ancient Ulster Cycle. It features characters such as the demigod-warrior Cú Chulainn (Culann's Hound) and the mythic Queen Medb (Maeve) of Connacht.

Percy Metcalfe's initials (PM) are present on the lower right, below the ground line. Also below the bull is the word scilling, (Irish/Gaeilge for Schilling) and above is the denomination. Expressed as “1s”, representing both it's Irish and English name.


The Observe features the “Queen Mary Harp” (Clàrsach na Banrìgh Màiri), the national symbol of Ireland. To the left is the name Éire, the Irish/Gaeilge name for Ireland. To the right is the coin's minting year (1959). Notably Irish schilling from 1928 to 1937, had their date split to both sides of the harp. Along with name Saorstát Éireann, for Irish Free State. (Example: Left-side (Saorstát 19), Right-side (Éireann 28))

Pre-Decimal Irish Pound Guide

10 Florin=1 Irish Pound

20 Shilling=1 Irish Pound

240 Penny=1 Irish Pound

960 Farthing=1 Irish Pound

Size Comparison

An Irish Schilling with US Quarter for scale.
An Irish Schilling with US Quarter for scale.

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