STAMPA – 2017

For stamps, letter boxes, postcards and even 500 years of the Reformation, visit the Irish national stamp show at Griffith College this weekend!


STAMPA ticket


National Museum – Castlebar

For anyone near the Turlough Park Country Life division of the National Museum tomorrow, you might be interested in an illustrated talk on the history of the Post Office in Ireland, Serving Society, at 2pm in the museum.

Post Office dinner dance February 1963


The “social” used to be a great thing for many firms and organisations. It might take the form of a sports day, an excursion or a dinner dance. Like many other big businesses, the Post Office catered for a wide range of staff interests and football, drama and golf societies were run by active members of staff who devoted a lot of time and commitment to  them.

The dinner dance was a particularly popular occasion, a chance to get to know colleagues outside the day job and enjoy a meal and entertainment together. This photograph shows a Post Office dinner dance from 1963 and is from the collection of the photographer John Walsh who catalogued much of the daily life of the Liberties half a century ago. His grand-daughter has been sharing many lovely photographs on facebook. That’s where I saw this one and it’s certainly worth taking a look at her page. Copyright remains with the family.


Image may contain: 15 people, people smiling, people standing, wedding and indoor



Jonathan Swift – 1667-1745


This year marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift and various events have been planned both at home and abroad to commemorate the life and achievements of one of Ireland’s greatest writers. As an illustration, I’ve selected from our archive one of the stamps issued by the Post Office in 1967 on the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Swift 1s 5d

Born in Dublin, he was educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College and was ordained a clergyman. He found his life in rural parishes in Ireland dull and hoped for more advantageous appointments in England where his abilities were put to use by both the Whig and Tory politicians of the time. His appointment as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin was not what he had in mind but when he began to advance the cause of Ireland through his writings, he established himself as a popular local patriot. His work on debasement of Irish money (Drapier’s Letters) and the grievances of the exploited poor (A Modest Proposal) earned him a reputation as a daring and effective critic of Government policy.

Gulliver’s Travels (1726) is the book everyone knows about, largely because it has long been sold, in a shortened and censored form, as a children’s book. The story of Gulliver in the lands of giants and little people has obvious appeal to children but the book is really an adult one, a witty if rather bleak commentary on human nature. Swift’s own nature was a complex one and mystery still surrounds his own personal relationships, especially his love life. Did he ever marry and what was the nature of his association with “Vanessa”, that is Esther Vanhomrigh, and “Stella”, Esther Johnson, the woman he first met when she was just eight years old and beside whom he was buried in St. Patrick’s? Whose was the lock of hair found carefully wrapped in his desk and bearing the words “Only a woman’s hair”?

Swift’s later years were sad. He is believed to have suffered from Ménière’s disease, which caused dizziness and nausea, and added to this were loss of memory, a stroke and senility which led to his being seen as mad. His friends, for his own protection, had him declared “of unsound mind and memory”. He had long had a horror of losing his wits and an appreciation of the terrible indignities suffered by those who endured mental illness. In his will, he left the bulk of his money for the establishment of a mental hospital, St. Patrick’s, which continues to help people to this day.

Priest, politician and patriot, a man whose character blended personal ambition and practical humanity, Jonathan Swift’s insight and style make him one of the greatest of all satiric writers.