A treasure trove of gold coins which were discovered by five construction workers in Carrick-on-Suir are now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
David Kiersey, Shane Comerford, Tom Kennedy, Shane Murray and Patrick McGrath were undertaking ground works on Main Street in Carrick-on-Suir when they came across the coins and were on hand to witness the display of the coins along with Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan.
Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum, Eamonn Kelly, says that the hoard likely belonged to a member of the Catholic merchant class who was preparing to flee the country.
“The coins come from a particularly troubled era in Irish history, spanning the end of the Cromwellian war (1649-53) to the beginning of the Williamite war (1689-91) and the Penal Laws, which whacked Catholics, were in full effect,” Kelly told TheJournal.ie.
“The theory we have is that the person was a member of the merchant class who was a very careful saver,” he continued. “The fact that all of the coins are Guinea coins tells us a lot. These coins were ninety one per cent gold and were accepted all over Europe and in America, so if the person who owned the coins ever had to leave Ireland in a hurry, they would have acceptable money.”
The men who found the coins were praised their “honesty and civic responsibility” in handing the coins over to the relevant authorities but the men may not lose out because of their honesty, Kelly told TheJournal.ie.
“We have valued the coins, but wouldn’t want to say how much they’re worth just yet, but the lads won’t have lost anything by reporting it to the authorities,” he assured.
“The State is often more generous than the black market because it encourages good citizenship.”