New £1 coin is inspired by 2,000-year-old miniature boat

 

At first glance, the image on the new millennium £1 coin resembles a slice of water melon speared by several cocktail sticks.

Closer inspection reveals the melon to be a boat and the cocktail sticks, oars. The design was inspired by the Broighter Boat, a 2,000-year-old miniature in gold, discovered in Co Derry.

Technically, the vessel is an ocean-going currach, we were informed by Dr Pat Wallace, Director of the National Museum, where the coin was introduced yesterday.

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, posed with the real Broighter, currently on display at the museum.

The coin was designed by Alan Ardiff and Garrett Stokes after they won a competition held by the Millennium Committee. While the mood was celebratory, the governor of the Central Bank, Mr Maurice O'Connell, struck a sombre note.

"I'm afraid this is the last of the distinctive Irish coins," he lamented, adding that the uniform euros are already coming off the coin presses at a rate of 2,000 per minute.

Five million of the new £1 coins are to go into circulation from midnight on January 1st, while a commemorative edition will also be available for the inflated price of £18.50.

After taking possession of his specially encased edition the Taoiseach said the new coin was something everybody in the country would want to keep as a memento. The two stars on the coin represent the millennia and our ability to navigate, he said.

He remembered other commemorative coins such as the one to mark the Dublin Millennium in 1988 and the 10-shilling coin struck to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.