The GPO Museum – looking ahead

While our museum in the GPO must unfortunately close at the end of the month to make way for ongoing work on the new 1916 Witness History centre, the An Post Museum & Archive will, of course, continue its work to preserve items of postal historical interest and to promote a greater awareness of the important role played by the Post Office in the development of so many aspects of Irish life over the generations. I would certainly echo my colleague Saoirse’s sentiments in relation to our Letters, Lives & Liberty exhibition in the GPO museum. It has been fun to meet so many different types of visitors over the last few years – tourists and locals, school children and pensioners, architects, historians, philatelists, designers and fellow postal workers. In creating this museum, my aim was to open up the Irish postal world and use it to introduce some of the subjects – transport, printing, finance and design, as well as Irish administrative and political history – that have been connected with the Post Office over the centuries. It has been rewarding for us to hear from so many people who enter the museum expecting just to learn a bit  about stamps and leave it amazed at the impact the Post Office has had on Irish life. That has been the measure of the museum’s success over the last five years.

Postbox

The physical GPO museum will close on the 30th May 2015 but we shall continue to use our website and other channels to provide a virtual display of and information on some of the material that was there, adding new things from our archive collections from time to time. Keep your eyes open too for occasional talks or touring exhibitions or for items that we may display elsewhere – like this pillar box that we recently provided for the departures area of Dublin airport – an enduring and friendly symbol of Ireland for people leaving our shores.

Stephen Ferguson
Assistant Secretary & Museum Curator

GPO, Dublin

Postal friendships

“I recently read Helene Hanff’s delightful,  84 Charing Cross Road, the story of the friendship that develops between Helene Hanff, an outgoing American literary woman and Frank Doel (married to an Irish wife Nora) employee and senior buyer at a traditional English bookshop on the Charing Cross road in London. The mood of a rather dreary and exhausted London, where rationing still prevails after the war, stands in marked contrast to the colour, energy and prosperity of New York. It’s a charming little tale of how letters and the  efficiency of the Post Office’s book-post service gradually manage to turn a routine business inquiry into friendships that last a lifetime.”

– Stephen Ferguson, Assistant Company Secretary

Book Cover

Recommended by Stephen Ferguson

Merry Christmas

This year we are not only celebrating Christmas but also two hundred years since the foundation stone of the GPO was laid in 1814. There will be free entry to the An Post Museum from the 8th December till Christmas Eve so do come and take a look at our exhibition, Letters, Lives & Liberty, and if you drop in at lunch-time, you’ll also be able to join in with the traditional carol singing in the Public Office.

Have a very Happy Christmas.

An Post Museum and the GPO are closed Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Keep an eye on this page and our social media channels to keep up to date with details for events at the An Post Museum – GPO Dublin.

Christmas at the Post Office

While technological changes have meant that the volume of Christmas cards has declined dramatically in recent years, the tradition of sending turkeys and geese through the post is a distant memory now and the days of having 1800 telephonists on duty over Christmas are long gone, it’s still a very busy time of the year for the Post Office.  People still very much like our Christmas stamps and I have picked out here a selection of some of the attractive stamps we have issued over the years.

The Irish Post Office first issued a special Christmas stamp in 1971 and since then there has been a great variety of designs and styles – from the iconography of Trinity College’s famous Book of Kells and paintings by the great masters to the fresh artistic expressions of children. The GPO’s traditional nativity scene is on display in the Public Office and with the building marking its bicentenary this year, it’s a good time to visit the Museum, post your cards and maybe buy a few souvenir items in our Philatelic Shop, special stamps or prize bonds as Christmas presents.

Christmas Stamps

The Postman’s Knock

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!

Old post office poster

Independence Day – America and Ireland via Foynes

A happy Independence Day to our friends in the USA!

This 75 year old first flight cover, kindly donated to our archive, marks the transatlantic air connection between Foynes in county Limerick and New York. For  a short period before the Second World War a flying boat service operated from Foynes and it carried mail as well as passengers. It was, of course, an expensive passage  but for those who had the means it was a fast and glamorous trip and those times are well commemorated in the Foynes Flying Boat Museum today.
The war put a stop to the flights and with the rise of jet-engine aircraft, the flying boats, as a commercial venture, were consigned to history. Shannon airport, however, developed from the operations here and established itself as a transatlantic hub.
Letter Cover