The treasure was discovered on January 14, 2013 by David Kearsey, Shane Comerford, Tom Kennedy, Shane Murray and Patrick McGrath during excavation work being done on Main Street, Carrick-on-Shore, Tipperary County. Family and close friends of the searchers were invited to the museum today to see the coins on display to the general public. The coins were reportedly "lined up" in the ground and may have been wrapped and bound with some material that has not survived.
The find consists of 81 gold coins from the reigns of Charles II (1660-85), James II (1685-8), William and Mary (1688-94), and William III (1694-1702). There are now 77 Guinean coins and 4 half-Guinean coins, the earliest dating to 1664 and the most recent to 1701. Guinea is a British gold coin minted by the Royal Mint between 1663 and 1814. Some of the guineas used came from Guinea, West Africa, and were minted in four denominations (half, one, two, and five).
When first introduced, the value of a guinea was one pound (20 shillings), but the value of the coin fluctuated according to the value of gold. In 1717 the value of the guinea was officially set at 21 shillings. When the hoard was buried, an agricultural worker could receive a wage of 1 shill. Day. Thus, the accumulated hoard represented an agricultural laborer's wages of over 6 years.
The Carrick-on-the-Sea treasure probably represents the accumulated wealth of one family over several generations and was collected in the period after the Cromwellian War through the end of the decade after the Wilhelmian War. It is not known why the hoard was hidden, but it is possible that its wealthy Catholic owner may have found it necessary to hide his portable assets in response to the introduction of criminal legislation. Many other scenarios are possible, and further research is being conducted to try to establish the hoard's historical basis.
A comparable hoard of seventeenth-century gold coins has not been found in Ireland since the discovery of a hoard in Portarlington, County Laois, around 1947 that contained just over 100 gold coins as well as several silver coins. They are on display at Airgead, A Thousand Years of Irish Coins and Currency, First Floor, South Block, Benburbe Street, Dublin 7.