Bank of Ireland is the oldest bank in continuous operation in Ireland. It has been in operation for over 230 years. The Bank, which provides a wide range of services in Ireland and the United Kingdom, employs over 11,000 people. It has its headquarters in Dublin.
Prior to the establishment of Bank of Ireland there was, what has been described as a ‘free for all’ currency system in Ireland. Anybody could set up a bank and issue coins, both silver and copper, and banknotes without restriction. French Spanish, Portuguese and English coins circulated freely in Ireland.
A banking breakdown occurred in 1734 which led to a coinage being proclaimed for Ireland which had a fixed exchange rate. Parities were fixed for English and all other foreign coins in circulation at the time. However the standard currency did not put an end to the crises. Due to exchange fluctuations and other factors, there was a big crash in 1760 followed by another crisis 1770.
Finally in 1782 Bank of Ireland was established under an act of Grattan’s Parliament. The new bank was given a monopoly on the issue of currency among recognised banks in Ireland. These notes continued to be issued up until the 1920’s. Bank of Ireland continues to issue its own banknotes in Northern Ireland to this day.
The Bank of Ireland opened for business at Mary’s Abbey off Capel Street in Dublin in 1783. Eighteen years after the bank was established the Irish Parliament ceased to exist when the Act of Union came into force. The parliament building at 2 College Green was bought by the Bank of Ireland in 1803. The building which for a time was the headquarters of the bank continues as a working branch of the bank to this day. The chamber of the House of Commons was converted for bank use but the House of Lords chamber was kept intact and can be viewed by the public.
Down through the centuries the bank expanded its branch network throughout the country. In 1965 Bank of Ireland acquired the National Bank which had been founded by Daniel O’Connell in 1835. Today, despite a recent major crisis Bank of Ireland continues to play a central role in the banking industry in Ireland.
Bank of Ireland, the oldest bank in continuous in Ireland, opened for business at Mary’s Abbey off Capel Street in Dublin in the year 1783 On This Day.
Bank of Ireland (House of Commons)
Five pound note, Bank of Ireland