The Stuff of Legends: 2018 Annual Mint Set

2018 Annual Mint Set

Some of Ireland’s most iconic fabled characters are being brought to life with the launch of the Central Bank of Ireland’s 2018 Annual Mint Set.

Irish myths and legends is the theme for this year’s set, which goes on sale 30 April 2018 and is available to buy for €29 on collectorcoins.ie.

The specially designed presentation set takes inspiration from some of Ireland’s most captivating legends, including the Children of Lir, Cú Chulainn and Deirdre of the Sorrows. The 2018 set comes in a beautifully designed presentation wallet and features the stories and characters of Ireland’s favourite myths and legends. As in previous years, the mint set comprises all eight circulating Irish coin denominations dated in the year of issue. The coins are of brilliant uncirculated standard, have a markedly intense lustre and will impress with their overall brilliance.

Featured legends

Central to the design of the mint set is a silhouette effect featuring the characters and stories from a range of Ireland’s most renowned folklore tales. Three legends feature on the outer case of the presentation wallet, including the tragic Childen of Lir, the omniscient Salmon of Knowledge and perhaps Ireland’s most well-known mythical hero, Cú Chulainn.

The inside of the slipcase features the coveted Brown Bull of Cooley, the warrior Wolfmen of Ossary, as well as Deirdre of the Sorrows. Included is a brief summary of the story of each legend such as that of Deirdre – whose beauty provoked such jealousy, betrayal and bloodshed that she took her own life in a final act of vengeance.

 2018 Annual Mint Set

Tradition of storytelling

This is not the first time that characters from ancient myths and legends have played a leading role in Irish currency design.

Those old enough to remember will recall that Medb, the warrior Queen of Connacht, featured on the green £1 note from the Series B Banknotes, while fearless hero Cú Chulainn was pictured on the blue £20 note. Cú Chulainn was also portrayed on the reverse of the 1966 ten-shilling collector coin issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The £1 note from the Series B Banknotes featuring Queen Medb

According to Louis O’Byrne, chairman of the Numismatic Advisory Committee, which oversees the choice of themes and designs of collector coins, the 2018 mint set will appeal to both national and international coin collectors, as well as everyone with an interest in Irish legends. “Irish legends rival those of Greek and Roman mythology for being the most ancient body of myths to survive into the modern era,” he said. “This year’s mint set will appeal to collectors both at home and abroad and everyone who likes Celtic mythology.”

O’Byrne described the mint set as a celebration of the Irish tradition of storytelling, which saw culture passed from one generation to the next via word of mouth. “Irish folk culture is very much founded on memory and the spoken word, and the stories of Ireland’s popular myths and legends were only committed to writing by monks in the eighth century onwards,” he said. “These are stories that are very much about the people – the magical tales told around the kitchen fire at night that have survived right up until the present day,” he added.

History of the Mint Set

The Central Bank has a long history of issuing commemorative mint sets, which have increased in frequency and popularity in recent years. The first mint set was issued by the Central Bank’s predecessor, the Currency Commission, in 1928 to mark the first issue of currency by the Irish Free State.

However, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the Central bank began to issue sets on a regular basis. Until then such coin sets and collector coins were issued to commemorate significant events in Irish history such as the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, or Ireland’s switch to decimalisation in 1971.

Now the Central Bank issues a mint set annually, each uniquely themed to capture the essence of Irish history and culture. Themes chosen for previous mint sets include the Aran Islands (2007), Newgrange (2008) and most recently Irish Lighthouses and the Irish Coast Guard (2017).

According to O’Byrne, collector coins and coin sets are a great way to promote Ireland and Irish culture. “If you’re looking for something that represents Ireland and something that captures the culture of Ireland then collector coins and coin sets are the perfect choice,” he said.

Collector coins also make a great gift for family living abroad as well as members of the younger generation. “We actually have a lot of young coin collectors,” said O’Byrne. “Many only became interested in collecting because they received a coin or a coin set as a gift.”

As well as the 2018 Mint Set, a wide range of previously issued coins and coin sets are available to buy on collectorcoins.ie