The particular contribution made by older people to Irish life and society, in so many different ways, is not always appreciated as it should be and, keen to do its part in marking the International day of older persons, the An Post Museum will open free to everyone on the 1st October with a particular welcome for older visitors. Pictured here, from a book in our archive, is Mattie Fox, who served the people of Longford for over 44 years as a rural postman. His face, no longer young, seems nonetheless to radiate contentment and his hat is set at a suitably jaunty angle reflecting, no doubt, a character and temperament that remained youthful despite the passing years. The role of the postman in the local community, particularly for elderly people, is important and the Friends of the Elderly organisation’s Postman of the Year award is a nice way of recognising the work of postmen and women who go beyond what might be expected of them.
This is one of the items, drawn from the An Post Museum & Archive, which is currently on display in The GPO – 200 Years exhibition in the Irish Architectural Archive in Merrion Square Dublin. The title of a popular Victorian song, it reflects the growing importance of the Post Office in society and the particular role of the postman as the face of a Government organisation that touched the lives of ordinary people in so many different ways – through mail, telegraphs, savings and so forth. The attractive red coat was soon replaced with a more serviceable blue. Note too the absence of a door letter slot for – it took the GPO many years to persuade people to cut a slot in their fine oak doors!
This rather splendid chair with its sedan style hood used to sit in the entrance hall of the GPO in Dublin. The porter on the Prince’s street side of the building, at what was known as the Minister’s entrance, to the GPO used to sit in this and welcome visitors from his unusual vantage point. This type of chair was often found in institutional settings and in the hallways of grand houses. I am unclear as to its origins and how it came to be in the GPO after 1916 but it is an interesting piece in our collections and can currently be seen on display in an exhibition – The GPO – Two Hundred Years – running at the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion square, Dublin.