Workers who found Carrick gold coins guests at expo opening at National Museum

Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, TD viewing the Carrick-on-Suir Gold Coins Hoard with the five men who discovered the coins (L-R) Cooney's Pub owner David Kiersey, building contractor Shane Comerford, Tom Kennedy, Shane Murray and Patrick McGrath at the official opening of the coins exhibit at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.
Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

The 81 gold coins found under the floor of a Carrick-on-Suir pub by construction workers in January are now on display in the National Museum and hopes have risen that they will be exhibited in the town they were discovered this autumn.

The National Museum has confirmed it is in discussions with the Office of Public Works in relation to displaying the 17th century coins in Carrick-on-Suir’s Ormond Castle for an “open day” this autumn in advance of the hoard being exhibited temporarily at South Tipperary County Museum in Clonmel.

The progress in the campaign to get the coins displayed in Carrick-on-Suir was welcomed by Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan at Carrick Town Council’s monthly meeting on Monday night.

The Council last month sent a letter to Arts, Heritage & Culture Minister requesting him to meet a deputation of councillors to hear their case for having the first exhibition of the coins outside Dublin in Carrick-on-Suir where they were found.

Arising from the National Museum’s latest statement concerning the coins, Cllr Cooney-Sheehan urged Council management to keep up the pressure and contact Minister Deenihan by phone about getting the coins exhibited in Ormond Castle.

She said she didn’t want the Council to ease off on its campaign. Town Clerk Michael O’Brien, who informed the meeting that the Minister’s office had acknowledged receipt of the Council’s request for a deputation, agreed to write another letter to Minister Deenihan on behalf of the Council. Cllr Cooney-Sheehan responded she would also personally telephone the Minister’s office about the matter.

The official opening of the gold coins exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History Museum at Collins Barracks by Minister Deenihan on May 30 was attended by the five men who discovered them while building works were taking place at Cooney’s Pub on Carrick’s Main Street.

The names of Grangemockler building contractor Shane Comerford, construction workers Tom Kennedy, Shane Murray, Patrick McGrath and Cooney’s Pub owner Pat Kiersey have been listed on a plaque beside the coins exhibit.

The coins’ five finders were specially invited to the exhibition opening by the National Museum’s Acting Director Seamus Lynam.

Tom Kennedy said it was a very enjoyable occasion and they were accompanied at the function by family and friends.

He said they hoped the Museum would be able to find a way to exhibit the coins in Carrick-on-Suir later this year.

“There are talks taking place though I wouldn’t say anything is set in stone. Hopefully it will take place in September for a day.

“We would like to see them displayed in Carrick-on-Suir. If the Museum brings them to Clonmel they should really bring them to Carrick as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Kennedy and the coin’s other finders are still awaiting news from the National Museum on the issue of an award for handing the coins over to the National Museum.

According to the National Museum, the hoard of coins represented in excess of six years wages of an agricultural labourer at the time the hoard was buried.

“The Carrick-on-Suir Hoard probably represents the accumulated wealth of a single family over a number of generations, and was collected in the period following the Cromwellian War down to the end of the decade following the Williamite War,” said a National Museum spokesperson.

“It is not known why the hoard was hidden but it is possible that its wealthy Catholic owner may have considered it necessary to hide his portable assets in response to the imposition of the Penal Laws.

“Many other scenarios are possible and further research is being conducted to try to establish the historical background of the hoard.”

No comparable 17th century hoard of gold coins has been found in Ireland since the discovery in Portarlington, Co. Laois, around 1947 of a hoard that contained a little over 100 gold coins, as well as some silver coins.

The National Museum said it wished to thank the finders of the coins for reporting the discovery and to An Garda Síochána in Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel for assistance at the time of discovery. It also thanked South Tipperary County Musuem in Clonmel for its assistance.