header Notes Collection

50 Pounds 1982, Ireland

in Banknotes Book Number: E151
Years of issue: 01.11.1982
Signatures: Governor: Mr. T. F. O'Cofaigh, Secretary of the Department of Finance: Mr. Maurice F. Doyle
Serie: Series "B" Banknotes (1976- 82 & 1989-93)
Specimen of: 01.11.1982
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 180 х 94
Printer: Waterlow and Sons Limited, London

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

50 Pounds 1982




Lady Hazel Lavery (second wife of the famous painter Sir John Lavery).

She is a personification of Ireland on Irish banknotes Serie A.


50 Pounds 1982

Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin

The engraving on banknote is made after this portrait of Turlough O'Carolan by Irish painter James Christopher Timbrell, 1844. Today this painting is in the National Museum of Ireland.

Turlough O'Carolan, (Irish: Toirḋealḃaċ Ó Cearḃalláin Irish: Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) (1670 – 25 March 1738) was a blind early Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition.

Although not a composer in the classical sense, Carolan is considered by many to be Ireland's national composer. Harpers in the old Irish tradition were still living as late as 1792, and ten, including Arthur O'Neill, Patrick Quin and Donnchadh Ó Hámsaigh, attended the Belfast Harp Festival. Ó Hámsaigh did play some of Carolan's music but disliked it for being too modern. Some of Carolan's own compositions show influences of the style of continental classical music, whereas others such as Carolan's Farewell to Music reflect a much older style of "Gaelic Harping".

Carolan was born in 1670 in Nobber, County Meath, where his father was a blacksmith. The family moved from Meath to Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon in 1684. In Roscommon, his father took a job with the MacDermott Roe family of Alderford House. Mrs. MacDermott Roe gave Turlough an education, and he showed talent in poetry. After being blinded by smallpox at the age of eighteen Carolan was apprenticed by Mrs. MacDermott Roe to a good harper. At the age of twenty-one, being given a horse and a guide, he set out to travel Ireland and compose songs for patrons.

For almost fifty years, Carolan journeyed from one end of Ireland to the other, composing and performing his tunes. One of his earliest compositions was about Brigid Cruise, with whom he was infatuated. Brigid was the teenage daughter of the schoolmaster at the school for the blind attended by Carolan in Cruisetown, Ireland. In 1720, O'Carolan married Mary Maguire. He was then 50 years of age. Their first family home was a cottage on a parcel of land near the town of Manachain (now Mohill) in County Leitrim, where they settled. They had seven children, six daughters and one son. In 1733 Mary died.

Turlough O'Carolan died on 25 March 1738. He is buried in the MacDermott Roe family crypt in Kilronan Burial Ground near Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon. The annual O'Carolan Harp Festival and Summer School commemorates his life and work in Keadue, County Roscommon.

A bronze monument by sculptor Oisin Kelly depicting Turlough O'Carolan playing his harp was erected on a plinth at the Market Square, Mohill, on 10 August 1986, and was unveiled by Patrick Hillery, President of Ireland.

Carolan composed both songs and instrumental harp music, reflecting various styles of composition. About a third of Carolan's surviving music have associated Irish lyrics that survive to this day. Largely these lyrics are unknown to the musicians of today, who have for the most part adapted Carolan's repertoire to the currently popular Irish fare of jigs and reels.

Carolan's activities during his career are only partially documented historically. This has led to a lack of accurate information about Carolan and his music, even among Irish musicians. Sometimes, alternate titles or incorrect titles have been applied to songs, creating confusion as to whether the song is Carolan's or someone else's. Also, some of those who have written about Carolan and his music have made up facts or repeated unfounded stories. For instance, Edward Bunting, who began the work of collecting Carolan's pieces, referred to a "very ancient air" the Fairy Queen, saying it "seems to have been the original of Carolan's Fairy Queen." He also reported that "the Fairy Queen of Carolan was not intended by him for words, but as a piece of music for the harp." While it is true that Carolan did not write the traditional Fairy Queen words, which indeed do exist, the words are not ancient (nor is the entirely different traditional Irish air The Fairy Queen), and the words do in fact fit perfectly the original music which Carolan composed for them.

Irish was the majority language in Ireland during Carolan's time. As Carolan did not speak English very well, he composed only one song in English, "Carolan's Devotion". Most of his songs were dedicated to and written about specific individual patrons. Many of his tunes are widely performed and appreciated today, and a handful of his Irish songs have been recorded by various artists. He typically composed the tune first, as he rode from place to place, then added words later. Many of his songs are designated as "planxties", a word that Carolan apparently invented or popularized to signify a tribute to a merry host. In return for writing songs in honour of wealthy patrons, Carolan was often welcomed as an honoured guest to stay on their estates. It is said that weddings and funerals were sometimes delayed until he could arrive to perform.

Most of Carolan's compositions were not published or even written down in his lifetime. They survived in the repertoires of fiddlers, pipers, and the last of the old Irish harper/singers. They were collected and published during the late 18th century and beyond, largely beginning with the work of Edward Bunting and his assistants in 1792.

Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin harp

A late XVII Century harp, stated to have belonged to Turlough O’Carolan, the Irish Bard (in the National Museum of Ireland).

The Museum Register describes its physical attributes as, “Curved key piece bound on the front with an iron plate with one corner rivetted through the fore-pillar and two horizontal plates on either side rivetted on pillar, one binding it to the key piece.” The Royal Irish Academy register continues, “As in all Irish instruments of the same class, its strings, thirty-five in number, are of wire; the pins to which they are attached are of brass.”

The harp was transferred from the Royal Irish Academy to the National Museum’s Irish Antiquities division in 1945, then onto the Art and Industry division in 1958. (National Museum of Ireland)

On background are musical notes.

According to the Bank of Ireland, in the background, from left to right: "The musical notes are excerpts from the music of Turlough O’Carolan, b.1670-d.1738, (permission from the National Library), John Field's "Nocturne no 5 in B flat major", b.1782-d.1837, (permission from the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.) and an excerpt from Edward Bunting’s, b.1773-d.1843, ‘A General Collection of ancient Irish music’ (permission from the Royal Irish Academy)".

Еhe music of Turlough O’Carolan:

John Field's "Nocturne no 5 in B flat major":

An excerpt from Edward Bunting’s book "A General Collection of ancient Irish music":

Denominations in numerals are in lower left and top right corners. In words - vertically, on left side.


50 Pounds 1982

St. Michan's church organ St. Michan's church organ

On banknote is "The Organ Trophy".

St. Michan’s church is situated on Church Street, behind Dublin’s Four Courts and near the old city fruit and vegetable markets. St. Michan’s Church is the oldest parish church on the north side of the River Liffey. Originally founded in 1095, the present church dates from 1685 and was renovated in 1825. Internally, the church retains its original galleried interior and organ.

In front of the gallery is the "Organ Trophy" a piece of wood carving depicting 17 musical instruments, possibly carved by Henry Houghton or John Houghton. The "Trophy" was installed in 1724. Legend had it that Handel practised for the first performance of "Messiah" on this organ.

Denomination is in lower right corner.


Designers team

Series B designers team:

Artist - Patrick Hickey.

Michael Biggs - calligrapher.

Sean Mulcahy - consulting engineer.

Richard Hurley - architect.

Brian Hogan - architect, lecturer, writer.

Many thanks to Richard from Fulfillment & Exchange Team of Currency Issue Division of Central Bank of Ireland for help with all information about images on banknote.