British Tokens, Tickets and Passes, Wiltshire Coins and Paranumismatica (30 September 2021)
Educated at the local grammar school, he was the first member of his family to go to university, graduating from Queen’s in Belfast in Electronic Engineering in 1973, although Francis Heaney often told the tale that he also majored at snooker while there. He followed this with a MSc and worked for a while at Short Brothers in his native city, but later his interest in electronics took him to Staffordshire in 1978 to work on microprocessors for General Electric at their factory in Stone, where he was a project manager. He was one of those fortunate people who could say that he was working for a living doing what he would be doing anyway, as a hobby. As a teenager he would be happiest in his bedroom, soldering and etching printed circuit boards.
He had many interests, including fishing, which took him around the rivers of Ulster most weekends as a teenager, until his life-long vegetarianism ended that particular passion in his late teens. When younger he loved travelling, and made trips to the US and Canada, India, Thailand and Europe, often travelling around by bus or hitch-hiking. Music was another great love, and he had a sizeable collection of CDs and vinyl, all of which he would convert to MP3, catalogue, and then play on his home-made amplifiers and speakers. His arrival in Stafford coincided with the dawn of punk rock, and he saw many such bands locally.
His greatest interest was numismatics, particularly Irish tokens, which began in the early 1980s. I once asked why the interest in these silly bits of metal, and he explained that it was through tokens that he learned about Irish social history and geography. Any trip with him back home to Ireland would invariably be accompanied by a cry of “I’ve got a token from here”, or “I’ve got a postcard from here” (he also had a collection of Irish postcards), as we drove around the countryside.
Francis Heaney also recalls the illustrated circulars that used to arrive from Stafford “with a zillion questions about various tokens, varieties, history, etc” which, once answered, were passed on to other like- minded enthusiasts for further comment before being returned to him. In that way he maintained contact with a wide circle of numismatic friends, both at home and overseas. The exercise led him to establish his free-to- access website, irish-tokens.co.uk, which remains an extremely useful resource to collectors, and for a price of a stamp he would send a version of various aspects of the website on DVD.
Regrettably, Barry passed away on 19 December 2019, just a few days after his 68th birthday. He is survived by his daughter, brother and sister. Barry’s colourful website will be maintained by the family. He is remembered as someone who wore his extensive numismatic knowledge lightly, and was always willing to help on any post-1800 Irish token or medallic topic. He will be much missed.