Irish people 'raided their piggy banks' as they were hit by some of the toughest austerity measures and the longest recession in Europe, according to a report from the central bank.

Less than half the number of coins were issued last year than in 2008, and the bank actually took €23m worth of coins out of circulation in 2009, because of extra supply from coin jars at home, data showed.

The central bank said in its annual report that the lower demand for coins ‘may reflect a reduction in hoarding of such coins as economic activity weakened’.

Demand also fell as shops and pubs processed fewer cash transactions in the recession, while commercial banks returned coins instead of paying for storage, according to The Sunday Business Post.