In 1926 the government of the newly founded Irish Free State formed a coinage committee to plan for a new Irish coinage. The chairman of the committee was the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.
The government decision had already been taken to issue a sterling currency rather than to establish an independent Irish currency.
After some deliberation the committee decided that the Irish harp would be used as the national symbol on the coinage as it had been since the 1530’s and that the reverse designs would feature a series of animals important to Ireland’s mainly agricultural economy. The alternate suggestion that the coinage should feature Christian saints was ruled out as it was felt that the coinage would be widely abused by being made into religious medals.
A competition was organised and a number of well known sculptors and coin designers were invited to submit patterns for the coinage to the committee. A prize was to be awarded to the winning artist.
The designs submitted by Percy Metcalf were awarded the prize and after some modifications to the submitted designs the coinage went into production in the Royal Mint in London.
The denominations were designed and produced and the first independent Irish coins of each denomination were struck and issued dated 1928.