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.

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A 1947 old age pension order

In 1947 the Irish old age pension was just ten shillings in old money: that’s about 60 cents in today’s euros although we would have to adjust for inflation and purchasing power of course. It was payable, as it still is, through the Post Office and this order bears the postmark of the Grand Parade post office in Cork city although it is the Irish language version that is used on the date-stamp, Sráid a’ Chapaill Bhuidhe, the Street of the Yellow Horse. There’s a puzzle for denizens of the real capital now – what’s the origin of that?

Old age pension 31st october 1947 Grand Parade Cork

This seventy year old pension order has more of social history lore to offer. It bears an addition little stamp signifying that an extra five shillings should be added to the order. This was thanks to the liberality of the reforming first Inter-Party Government which replaced de Valera in 1948 and in particular to William Norton, Tánaiste and Labour Party leader, who introduced the  measure… and Norton, of course, had started life as a Post Office employee and became secretary of the Post Office Workers’ Union!

So much to be learned from one little item in our Museum & Archive collection.