Find a penny… do you pick it up? A penny may seem almost worthless these days. But a lucky penny might be the difference between fortune and destitution if you believe the legends. Though one measly cent may hardly seem worth bending down to pluck off the ground, old Irish lore tells us these found pennies belong to the “good people” and have been left there to tempt the finder to good fortune. Depending upon how you feel about fairies, pixies, leprechauns and other little creatures, you may either spit on the coin and throw it into the bushes in order to secure some good luck from them. Or you might want to pocket it and consider it a gift.
"Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck. Give it to a faithful friend and your luck will never end."A story that is definitely minted in truth is the long-practiced Irish concept of “Luck Money”. It was common at fairs and markets to return a penny to the buyer to wish them luck with the new purchase. Some chose to return more than a mere penny, securing their status as big spenders and generous patrons. The Irish penny dates back to 1928 when a coinage committee, founded after Ireland gained its independence in 1926, sought to mint Ireland’s own money to distinguish from Britain’s monetary system. Poet William Butler Yeats was the chair of the committee and the winning design came from the Book of Kells. One side features an Irish harp, a national symbol, and the other a hen and chicks, to symbolize the national economy. The Irish penny, made from copper, was minted from 1928-1968 and weighs about one ounce. After production ceased, many of the copper coins were melted down, making authentic Irish pennies a real find today. A lucky find, you could say. Many of those rare coins are found in America as it was a common custom for loved ones to place a penny in an emigrant’s pocket with the blessing, “May your pockets never be empty.” The Irish-Americans held on to their Irish pennies as a connection to the homeland.