Euro rather nifty

Today has been quite momentous for me.

I held my bank card in my hand.

I held my bank card in my hand.

Euro Rather Nifty | The Next Instalment of "My Irish Adventure"

The next big step!

Since moving to Ireland I’ve had to use Belov’d’s card. Unlike in the UK bank accounts aren’t free- and I’ve only just got an income.

But the shiny blue card means a lot more. More than having my name on pay when it comes in. More than that worry that the cashier may realise it’s not your card but your finance’s. More than realising I can purchase things online or over the phone with my own name.

The shiny blue card means I now have a Euro denominated bank account in my name.

It’s one of the last things about setting up a life in another country.

It kind of means I’ve done it.

So what’s so great about Euros anyway?

A lot.

I don’t need you as much as Euro need me!

Turns out they’re rather nifty. Back when I was little Pixie back in the UK I had vague rememberings about taking the Euro as a currency.

Actually, the rumblings of Sterling vs Euro had been going since ‘90- way before I would be able to understand anything. It looked promising that the Sterling would go the way of the French Franc, German Mark, and the Greek Lira- but it didn’t.

As always, when things are looking up, the financial markets decide to go tits up. In ‘92 it really did. It was so bad it was called “Black Wednesday” and has, like all the crashes since, it royally screwed over the most vulnerable of people whilst those who caused it were fine. Anyways, this crash was blamed, partly, upon the UK’s preparation to switch to the Euro.

The following ten years saw the worst Labour government ever, buffoon around setting out a “five economic tests” plan. The idea being that we had to cross off each point before we could go ahead. That this would make sure that the decision was right for the UK and we were prepared.

Excerpt from "Euro Rather Nifty" blog "it had never occurred to consider how far the coins she was using had travelled, or the history attached to them"

Towards 2007 to 2010 Labour continued to lump their way along. Gordon Brown even stated that not joining the Euro was the “right thing” for the UK. Strangely other politicians, including Monetary Policy Affairs Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, still though the chances of the UK joining others was still high.

The real test came in the 2010 election- with the Lib Dems (you know- the yellow ones) running on a pro-Euro campaign. They lost a lot of seats- but joined up with the Tories to form a coalition. Not only did they drop the pro-Euro sentiments but also something they had promised all along- scrapping uni fees. It’s almost as if they dropped everything that made them different to the Tories just so they could sit at the big boy’s table instead of their high chair. For that, I, and thousands of others of my age will never forgive them.

At that point, any hope of the UK joining the Euro was out the window.

My personal thoughts? I’m not sure, to be honest. There is a certain amount of heritage in your currency we’ll find out more about this later. An analogy that has always stuck with me, I heard a few times back when the debate was going on was:

It’s foolish to expect the same fuel to work for Germany’s super power car like economy to power the beaten up on tractors of Southern Italy!

To a point yes, I see where you’re coming from. At the same time currency isn’t that simple- I know that even more so after meeting Belov’d.

It’s too hard to know, and hindsight is a wonderful thing to have in these situations.

Our collection

What I do know about Euros is that they’re pretty interesting. Aside from the fact I can spend the Euros, I’m earning in eighteenth other countries without an issue is the different patterns.

The paper notes are the same across the nineteen countries. They have nondescript historical bridges on them. The coins, on the other hand, are personalised to each country. The value side (ie how much the coin is worth) is the same, but the other side was left up to the individual countries.

Obviously, the most common version for Belov’d and I to come across is the Irish one. It’s similar to the Irish pence, with the Celtic harp on the back. However, we regularly check our pockets for more exotic variations. Currently, we have 13 in the collection- spanning from 5 cent pieces to €2.

5 Cent

Austrian 2002

2264 km (1407 miles) away.

Austria 5 Cent Piece

Austria chose to highlight their native plants on their coins. This particular one shows off an Alpine primrose.

Netherlands 2001

1371 km (852 miles) away.

Netherlands 5 Cent

There are two kinds of 5 cent coins in circulation from the Netherlands. This is a portrait of Queen Beatrix, and the other is of King Willem-Alexander.

10 Cent

Latvia 2014

3155 km (1960 miles) away.

Latvian 10 cents

The cent coins all bear the Latvian coat of arms, the larger denominations (€1 and €2) have a woman in traditional dress.

20 Cent

Spain 1999 and 2006

1950 km (1211 miles) away.

Spanish 20 cent

Miguel de Cervantes features on both coins, but the 1996 edition is understandably more worn down. The Spanish literary giant features similar to the Latvian coat of arms, on the smaller denominations.

Belgian 2007

2264 km (1407 miles) away.

Belgium 20 cent

A bit like the older pence from the UK this has the reigning monarch on. This has King Albert II on the side. It has been updated every few years, and in 2014 the new King, King Philippe, took over.

Austria 2002

2264 km (1407 miles) away.

Austria 20 cent

This is one of Austria’s famous baroque palaces, Belvedere. It was there in 1955 were the treaty that established Austria’s sovereignty was signed.

50 Cent

Slovakia 2009

2689 km (1670 miles) away.

Slovakia 50 cent

The theme of having the lower denominations have the same back continues into Slovakia. This is the castle that stands amongst the bustling town of Bratislava. I know that cos I’ve been, it was one of my first times using euros!


Finland 2001

3243 km (2015 miles) away.

Finland 1 euro

Finland chose to use established motifs from their previous currency, the Finnish Markka. This example has two swans, designed by Pertti Mäkinen.


Italy 2002

2708 km (1682 miles) away.

Italy 2 euro

Italy took the job of the new coin designs very seriously. They held a lengthy competition via their largest TV station to showcase and choose, different designs based off of the country’s famous artists The €2 coin shows Raphaël of Dante Alighieri.

Estonia 2011

3362 km (2089 miles) away.

Estonia 2 euro

Estonia took a more straightforward approach than the Italians. This is a geographically accurate image of Estonia.

Finland 2003

3243 km (2015 miles) away.

Finland 2 euro

One of the other designs that were kept is of cloudberry plants, the design shows the berries and the flowers. The edge also bears the word SUOMI (Finnish for ‘Finnish’) and three stars- representing the three lions on the country’s arms.

Commemorative 2005

Photograph of A Commemorative Euro coin

There was very little information about this one, to be honest. The page on the ECB (European Central Bank) didn’t even reference the coin. The only reference was image (above) and no further information. There is “Costituzione Europea” along the button- so probably something celebrating the constitution?


One thing that came up was the amount of effort that some countries put into the designs. For example Italy in comparison to Estonia. At first, Belov’d and I thought it was so funny, but then he pointed out that actually Estonia’s is rather poignant. The country itself has gained and lost its independence on multiple occasions- it’s current iteration is actually younger than Belov’d. So actually defining its border on its coins is similar to Germany splashing the Brandenburg Gate over theirs.

"Euro Rather Nifty" Excerpt reads "like all the crashes since, it royally screwed over the most vulnerable of people whilst those who caused it were fine."

Another thing to think about is that on so many occasions the respective countries have managed to keep their heritage on the coins. I remember that being a big sticking point for a lot of Brits during the lead up to the 2010 election. That losing the pound would be like losing our heritage. So many countries, like Finland, Ireland, and Austria, have managed to retain it.

As you may know, Belov’d spent a lot of time outside of Europe not using the Euro, and I lived in the UK using Sterling. So when we both started using Euros we both noticed how the coins varied. We proposed early on in our life in Ireland to make this collection. We ended up discussing this when we were at the bank with the assistant there. It had never occurred to her to look at the coins in more detail. Moreover, it had never occurred to consider how far the coins she was using had traveled, or the history attached to them.

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