A number of significant coin hoards have been found on Lough Ennell's islands.

Talk on history of coinage in Westmeath

Westmeath Archaeological and Historical Society is hosting a very interesting lecture on the history of coinage in Westmeath in the Greville Arms next Wednesday evening, March 22, at 8pm.

The speaker is Michael Kenny, a native of Newbristy and formerly a curator in the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks.

This talk looks at coin hoards discovered in Westmeath, ranging in date from the early Viking period to the early 18th century, with particular emphasis on finds in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland. In the 10th and 11th centuries the Kingdom of Meath was the kingdom most in contact with Viking Dublin, both in terms of military conflict and economic activity. Since the power base of the ruling Clan Cholmáin kings was in what is now Westmeath, there are several important coin finds from the county. The coins are important historical documents in their own right and are of considerable importance in helping us to understand how people lived and traded.

Later events, such as the Norman invasion, Cromwellian wars and plantations, and the conflict between King James and King William, are all reflected in coin finds, as armies marched through the county and local inhabitants hid their wealth due to the uncertainty and danger of those unsettled times.

Coin hoards are not only useful dating agents for the archaeologists. The information that we can glean from them makes them important historical artefacts and an important part of our local history, from the Viking age wealth of Lough Ennell, to the bloody sieges of Athlone in 1690 and 1691.