Mr. Yeats and the Beastly Coins

Documentary, History, Short Film,
Directed by:
Ann Maire Hourihane, Laura McNicholas
Produced by:
Ann Maire Hourihane, Laura McNicholas, 925 Productions


13 mins

In the wake of the Irish Civil War and the establishment of the new Irish Free State, this film documents the creation of a new coinage for Ireland in 1926.

Poet, William Butler Yeats was already an internationally renowned figure when invited to chair the design committee for a set of coins which would proudly befit the new state. However, not everyone was impressed with the designs which featured a selection of Irish livestock, and much controversy was caused at home and abroad. Adding to this controversy, the coins, intended to distinguish Ireland as a sovereign nation independent from Britain, were created by an Englishman and produced in London.

The film utilises animation, a mix of archival and modern footage, and photographs to tell this remarkable story. The inflammatory nature of the tale is animated by a wryly entertaining voiceover and by spirited music by the composer Hugh Rodgers. The ‘beastly’ coins were eventually held with great affection by Irish people and became a distinctive symbol of a newly independent Ireland.

The film is part of F-Rated: Short Films by Irish Women and the After ’16 collection.

Classroom Worksheet:

Recommended Age:
TY Film / Senior History/ English / Politics & Society
Currency, The Foundation of the State, National Identity, The role of the Artist, Culture vs Commerce
Note to Teachers:

In collaboration with IFI Education, each of the After’16 short films includes a complimentary Classroom Worksheet. These are downloadable documents that can be used as a guide for teachers and students. The nine short films in this collection have not been classified so an age recommendation has been added to each film. While most of the films are suitable for a 12+ audience, the content and lesson ideas are geared towards Transition Year +. As with all content on the IFI Archive Player, we recommend that you view the material in advance of showing them in class.

Bonus Content