Ireland or Irish Éire is a western European country that occupies five-sixths of the British Isles' westernmost major island. Until 2002, the Irish Pound (IEP) was the national currency of Ireland. The currency comprised 100 pennies called pingin in Irish and often issued with the symbol £ or IR£ to separate it from other currencies like the British pound. The punt Éireannach is the Irish term for the Irish pound.
In 1986, support was slowly beginning to gather for the plan to create a single, pan-European currency with the signing of the Single European Act. This served as a catalyst for a free economic market in Europe without trade barriers. A logical addition to this borderless market would be to develop a single, uniting currency. On 1 January 1999, Ireland was among the earliest countries to have adopted the euro, fixing the Irish pound value at the rate of 0.787564 Irish pounds per euro. The euro existed solely as a virtual currency for three years, to be used for bookkeeping, called a numeraire. It wasn't until January 2002 that they began the circulation of euro coins and banknotes in Ireland and the rest of the European countries around that time.
Banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5. Each note has its own color and is dedicated to an artistic period of European architecture. The front side features gateways or windows, while the back has bridges, which symbolize links between states in the union and with the future. There are eight euro coins and seven euro-denominated banknotes. The banknotes, with designs defined by the ECB as displaying "architectural styles from various periods in Europe'sEurope's history," are alike throughout the euro area. However, euro coins have one country-specific side. All euro coins and notes are legal tender in any country in the eurozone, which currently represents 19 of the 27 countries of the EU. All countries in the EU except Denmark, which has opt-out clauses, are expected to join the euro area eventually.
At present, euro coins and notes are circulating in countries with a population of 340 million people. However, following global trends, the share of physical cash in transactions has been dwindling steadily as credit and debit card usage rises. Cash is still common for smaller transactions but less so for bigger ones.