It’s not every day the Central Bank pours out champagne on Dame Street, Dublin to queues of people awaiting a new currency.
In 2002, Ireland was one of the fastest of EU countries to adapt to the new euro and to consign its old currency to history.
Within a week of the introduction of the European currency on January 1, 2002, Ireland had embraced the euro for most monetary transactions.
The Central Bank on Dame Street, in Dublin, opened for New Year’s Day, though it is a public holiday.
At one stage, the line for cash stretched from the front doors for almost 50 metres along the street.
People waiting for new notes were served with champagne, hot whiskey and tea and coffee as they waited patiently to exchange their punts for euro.
The bank opened at 10am, but people were gathering outside from 7.45am. The average wait for cash was about one hour, though the champagne may have eased the wait for the hardy few.
On January 6, the first Sunday after the changeover, church collections were still made up of some 80 per cent Irish money, but by the following Sunday, this was down to less than 20 per cent old money.
There was to have been a grace period during which retailers would supply the new currency in change for purchases made with the old money; but many people simply went to banks and poured the old money onto the counter and exchanged it for euro.