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B Series Banknote Designs
B Series £100 Note design portrait of Granuaile
The £100 note design theme
The theme of the £100 note covers a period in Irish history of approximately one hundred and fifty years from ca1530, the start of the English conquest of Ireland, through to 1691, the flight of the ‘Wild Geese’ when some of the Catholic Irish lords went into exile along with their soldiers and extended families and followers, which resulted in the removal of the gaelic Irish aristocracy.
The design elements of the £100 note
The choice for the portrait was a legendary chieftain from the Elizabethan era, Grace O’Malley, Gráinne Ní Mhaol in Irish, known as Granuaile. Gráinne Ní Mhaol was used for her signature on the note. She was chosen to represent the Irish people in general, as she had grown to become a folk hero. Her symbol is the ships she commanded, and is based on a carrack design from a 1638 map of Ireland by Gerard Mercator (15121594). It was commented on later, in 1984, by Anne Chambers, an expert on Granuaile, that although accurate for the period, the O’Malleys’ ships would have been galleys rather than Spanish style carracks.
Reverse of the £100
The reverse of the banknote, pictured below, features a genealogical map of Ireland, with the localities of family names. The map represents the unity of Ireland. It is based on the 1567 map of ‘Hibernia: Insula non procul ab Anglia vulgare Hirlandia vocata’ by John Goghe, the earliest known map of the island of Ireland. An original of this map is in the National Archives in London.
Other symbols on the note: The Wild Geese
The ornamentation of the geese on the £100 numerals represents the ‘Flight of the Wild Geese’ from Ireland at the end of the JacobiteWilliamite war. This refers to the exile of the Irish forces lead by Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, loyal to the Stuart King James II. Sarsfield had held off the army of William of Orange during the siege of Limerick in August-October 1691, after William’s earlier victories in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and at the battle of Aughrim in July 1691. As part of the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691, the peace agreement allowed Sarsfield’s forces with their arms and banners and along with their families the option of sailing to France to join James II in exile. It also gave guarantees of safety to the Catholic Lords and population who remained in Ireland. It had the effect of removing a powerful force of Catholic Irish soldiers and their leaders from the field on the island of Ireland, leaving the Catholic aristocracy and their followers who remained largely at the mercy of the Williamites.
The security features to be used on the £100 note were cutting edge for the time. The galleon would contain a latent image ‘£100’ on the hull. The yellow in the background was to be visible fluorescent ink, and background colours on the front were chosen, especially the yellow, so that they would drop out when photocopied. Colour photocopies were considered to be a significant threat in terms of a source of forgeries, easily available to a potential forger. The black number 100 was to fluoresce red or green. The edge surrounding line on the front would be microprint intaglio, ‘Central Bank of Ireland’ repeated, this would be the only instance of the usage of English language on the face of a B Series banknote, and the only B Series denomination to contain microprinting.
Face: 3 colours intaglio, 3 colours litho. Reverse: 3 colours intaglio, 2 colours litho. The predominant colour was to be a strong red, as shown below in a test engraving of a version of the portrait which was not used. The banknote size would be 188 x 98 mm, 8 mm and 4 mm respectively larger than the £50 note. (Note, in the original design specifications, it was proposed that the £100 note would be the same size as the £50).
The reverse was largely acceptable from the initial stages of the design. However, there were some significant corrections to be made, most notably in the spelling of CONACHT and ULSTER, which should have used old spellings as on the original map: 'CONAGHT' and 'ULSER'.
1986 Final design stages and reviews of the need for the £100 note
Arguments for and against issuing the £100 denomination had continued throughout its development. There was always an underlying unease about the existence of a £100 denomination. Ireland had exchange controls in place at the time, and it was felt by some agencies that high denomination notes could help facilitate the illegal movement of cash. A recommendation from exchange control in a letter to the Central Bank of Ireland, dated 8th June 1979 was that the bank should cease issuing £50 and £100 notes. The Central Bank however, favoured retaining the denominations.
At the stage of the 1986 review, the Currency Department was already considering a size reduction of the banknotes in circulation, in line with international trends. It was the stated aim of the Currency Department to reduce the sizes of all denominations. It was considered logical however to proceed with the £100 as a note larger than the £50, and to start size reductions with the £1 note. In the event, the £1 note was replaced by a coin in 1990, the £100 note was cancelled, and the other B Series banknote denominations were replaced, starting in 1992, by the much smaller sized banknotes of the C Series, rather than reduced size B Series designs.
The £100 note design had taken so long to complete that the impending development of the C Series was catching up on it. The lack of a real need for a £100 note was a persistent fact that had nagged away at the project throughout the 1980s. Also, and possibly critically for the project, once Maurice Doyle became Governor on 1st May 1987 the opinion of the Governor would likely have altered from being in favour of the £100 denomination to being against it, as Mr. Doyle had been an opponent of it when in the office of Secretary of the Department of Finance. This may well have been a fatal blow to the introduction of the note. It would be ten years before a new £100 design would be introduced, in the form of the C Series £100 in 1996.
Likely prefix letters
Based on what is known of the B Series prefixing system it is likely that had the £100 note been issued around its original intended time, it would possibly have started with prefix ADL (ADL to LDL was used up on £1 notes dated 14.09.83, which was out of place in the pattern of £1 note sequences. L did not belong as a base letter to £1 notes.), with LLL for specimens and replacements. Other prefixes ending in L were used on £20 notes commencing 18.11.87, which is likely after the final cancellation of the £100 denomination.
Granuaile, Grace O’MalleyIreland’s “Pirate Queen”
Between the 14th and 16th centuries the O’Malley Clan were a mid-level power in the west of Ireland. They taxed and raided the area under their control and traded and fought with other clans. They built several castles on the shorelines to protect their interests. By the 16th century the clan were quite strong seafarers which was uncommon among Irish clans of the time.
There are several accepted spellings of her name: Grace O’Malley, in English; Gráinne Ní Mháille in Irish. She was known as Gráinne Mhaol (Maoil coming from the Umhalls, the baronies of Murrisk and Borrishoole, the historic territory of the O’Malley’s); or Anglicised to Granuaile. The Central Bank of Ireland considered that if Gráinne Ní Mháille was not used in full on the note, then Granuaile would be an acceptable spelling. The last known version being worked on was Gráinne Mhaoil, spelt in the old style.