The Mad Bird Of Éire: 1/2 Penny (Ireland, 1982)-Article

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

This small coin is a decimal Irish Halfpenny, dated 1982. The Irish Halfpenny represented the smallest denomination, of the decimal Irish Pound. It replaced the previous pre-decimal Halfpenny, on Decimal Day (15 February 1971). Until increasing inflation weakened its value, leading to the Halfpence demonization on 1 January 1987. Followed by the replacement Irish Pound and its associated coinage, on 1 January 1999.

The coin is a plain-edged design made of bronze (95.5% copper/3% tin/1.5% zinc) and weighs 1.78 g g. Its dimensions are 17.14 mm (0.675 mm) wide and 1.15 mm (0.045 in) thick. This coin will be reviewed reverse first, note the observe (Harp) is often mistaken for the reverse (Celtic Bird).


The “Celtic Bird” reverse was designed Irish artist Gabriel Hayes (1909–1978). It features a stylized looping bird, taken from the "Book of Kells". Portions of this stylized bird feature Celtic knots, eith the lowest section forming an a point. Which divides the coin's Halfpenny value, expressed as "1/2" and "P".

This is a notable departure from pre-decimal Irish coinage. Which expressed "Penny" as "D", as a homage to the Roman dēnārius (coin). In addition to including the coin's value in Irish/Gaeilge, which was expressed as leat pingin.


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 (1982). Notably Irish Halfpennies 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))

Size Comparison

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