The Irish Dollar

Started by brandm24, February 25, 2023, 11:53:50 AM

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brandm24

The small town of Emmetsburg is located in Palo Alto County in the rural Northwest area of Iowa. Even today, the population is less than 4,000. It was founded in about 1850 by mostly Irish immigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. They adopted the name from Robert Emmet, the Irish Nationalist who was hung by the British after a failed uprising in 1803. Emettsburg is the sister city of Dublin, Ireland.

Depending on the source, these so-called Irish Dollars were first issued in either 1961 or 1966 by the St. Patrick's Association. Although I'm not sure if they're still issued today, they had been for at least 50 years.

This particular token / medallion measures 40 mm and is struck in brass. They don't appear to have any value to them though they were issued for the town's annual celebration. More likely they were sold to raise money to help defray the cost of the celebration. They're listed on Token Catalog under several numbers including TC-386633.

BruceIrish Dollar O.jpgIrish Dollar R.jpgRobert Emmet.jpg   
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Figleaf

Wikipedia has a lemma on Emmetsburg, Iowa.

I hadn't heard of Emmet before - Ireland has a sad surplus of independence heroes - and wondered if it was one of those Irish-American things. That seems to be the case to a degree. There is a direct link from Ireland, via the famine and hunger migrants to the USA, where a conversion from O'Connell (passivism) to Emmet (activism) took place in the 1840s. Wikipedia says:

Emmet's political rehabilitation begins in the Famine-years of the 1840s with the Young Irelanders. In 1846 they had finally broken with O'Connell declaring that if Repeal could not be carried by moral persuasion and peaceful means, a resort to arms would be "a no less honourable course". The Young Irelander publisher Charles Gavan Duffy repeatedly reprinted Michael James Whitty's popular chapbook Life, Trial and Conversations of Robert Emmet Esq. (1836), and promoted R.R. Madden's Life and Times of Robert Emmet (1847) which, despite its devastating account of the Thomas Street fiasco, was hagiographic.

In carrying forward the tradition of physical-force republicanism from the debacle of the Young Irelander "Famine Rebellion" in 1848, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (the Fenians) also carried forward admiration for Emmet. On the $20 bonds they issued in 1866 in the United States in the name of the Irish Republic, his profile appears opposite that of Tone.


That's not to say Emmet is unknown in Ireland. There is a statue of him in his birthplace, St. Stephen's green (with a copy in Emmetsburg). Emmetsburg's sisterhood with Dublin is remarkable, as such relations are usually made between towns with a comparable population.

Below the date 1979 in the clover leaf is XIV. This may be an indication that it is the 14th issue. If so and if no years were missed, the first year if issue would be 1965.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

I thought that might be the case with the XIV but the most reliable date I could come up with was 1961. I did see an example of a 25th anniversary on a 1986 token and assumed it referred to the issue number. It was unclear what the anniversary actually celebrated. It could simply have been issued for the 25th year of the town's festival. I'm also unsure if a token was issued every year.

Emmet does seem relatively unknown, at least here. I had heard of him before as I'd come across an old coin with his name counterstamped on it and did a bit of research. The difference between Emmet's activism and Daniel O'Connell's working "in the system" was stark. O'Connell forged relationships with influential politicians such as Henry Parnell and because of it was more effective. And even more than that, he died of old age unlike Emmet who died at the hands of the executioner.

Bruce 
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Figleaf

While I am all for a non-violent death, I am not taking sides, as it seems that both missed the point of the other. If things are wrong, you start by talking, not by violence, but if talking doesn't work at all, violence will one day be unavoidable. When? That seems like a personal decision to me.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

Each approached the same problem but in different ways. While Emmet seemed to accomplish little in his short revolutionary life, it may have inspired others to pick up the torch. In that regard it was likely worth it to him.

O'Connell took the opposite approach and had more positive results it seems. But the effectiveness of each approach can only be judged by history and history isn't always interpreted correctly or without bias.

Bruce
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chrisild

Quote from: Figleaf on February 25, 2023, 03:39:24 PMEmmetsburg's sisterhood with Dublin is remarkable, as such relations are usually made between towns with a comparable population.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, Dublin has no such partnership with Emmetsburg. ;) The English language version lists four sister cities: San Jose, Liverpool, Barcelona and Beijing. The German one also has La Paz, added in 2012. And Emmetsburg cannot be found here either ...

brandm24

That's odd so maybe it was an informal arrangement or just Emmetsburg's desire to be associated with a large Irish city...without Dublin knowing about it. :)  Come to think of it, it would be a strange  pairing between such a large city and a small town.

Bruce
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brandm24

I found this image of an Irish Dollar dated 1969 with the roman numeral IV. If we backup for 4 years we come to 1965 and the likely the date of the first issue.

BruceIrish Dollar 1.jpg
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