The Sow Of Éire: Half Pence (Ireland, 1965)-Article

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

This coin is a pre-decimal Irish Halfpenny, dated 1965. The Irish Halfpenny represented the second smallest denomination, of the pre-decimal Irish Pound. With the Farthing (¼ Penny), representing the smaller denomination.

The pre-decimal Half Penny entered circulation in 1928 and was last minted in 1967. It ceased being legal currency on 31 December 1971, replaced by the decimal Irish Half Penny. The coin is a plain-edged design made of bronze (95.5% copper/3% tin/1.5% zinc) and weighs 5.67 g. Its dimensions are 1.00 inches (25.5 mm) wide and 1.62 mm (0.039 in) thick. This coin will be reviewed reverse first, note the observe (Harp) is often mistaken for the reverse (Sow and Piglets).


The “Sow and Piglets” reverse was designed English artist Percy Metcalfe, CVO, RDI. It features a female pig with 5 piglets, the piglets are arranged in a line. Percy Metcalfe's initials (PM) are present on the lower right, below the ground line. Also below the Sau is the words leat pingin, (Irish/Gaeilge for half penny) and above is the denomination. Expressed as “1/2d”, derived from the Roman dēnārius.


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 (1968). 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

An Irish half pence with a US Quarter for scale.
An Irish half pence with a US Quarter for scale.

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