Trollope, remembered chiefly as a Victorian novelist, was also a highly respected civil servant and Irish Post Office official. An unsettled early life with family and financial difficulties led to the young Trollope seeking a job in the GPO in London. Various warnings about his conduct and performance found his opting for a transfer to Ireland as a surveyor’s clerk rather than being dismissed. The move to Ireland in 1841 marked a turning point in his career. He arrived in Dublin to find his London boss had given him a very poor reference, saying “he was worthless, and must in all probability be dismissed” but that he would be “judged on his merits”.
Within a year he had redeemed his professional reputation, met the woman he would marry and found Ireland, which he came to know very well, much to his liking. He came to know Ireland very well indeed and would appear before a Parliamentary Committee as an expert on its postal affairs. The country and its Post Office, indeed, gave him a discipline and focus which certainly helped to keep him on the straight and narrow and he repaid this with a sympathy and understanding of Ireland and its people which was somewhat unusual amongst establishment figures of the time. So here’s a toast to our former colleague from his latter day colleagues in the GPO!
Our exhibition and museum in the GPO will, sadly, be closing at the end of next month to make way for ongoing work on the new 1916 museum, GPO Witness History. Since we opened our postal museum getting on for five years ago we have had the pleasure of welcoming many thousands of visitors to Dublin’s GPO and introducing them to the history and continuing role of the Post Office in Ireland. Young and old, native “Dubs” and visitors from around the world, stamp collectors, historians, and the perennially curious have, I believe, come away from the GPO with an increased appreciation for a wonderfully historic building and an organisation which has been at the heart of Ireland’s history for so many generations. It has been fun for those of us involved with the Museum here to have met so many interesting people and to have had an opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the Post Office and its wider role in Irish life and we hope to continue to do this through other channels and on other occasions.
Assistant Company Secretary
Easter was earlier this year than it was in 1916 and we have marked the occasion already but our picture shows the ruined GPO after the destruction caused by the Rising. The event brought out plenty of people to see what had happened at the Post Office that year and some of them will have wondered perhaps why the rebels chose the GPO as their headquarters. The building was in a central location of course and it commanded a strong position but it was the fact that it controlled communications, and particularly telegraph communications, that made it particularly attractive to the 1916 leaders. The story of how the building was occupied and the reaction and role of the postal staff who were on duty is not well known and it is a theme explored in the GPO Museum’s Letters Lives & Liberty exhibition which is due to close in the next few weeks. So drop into the GPO and get the background in time for next year’s centenary commemorations!