The local post office, a town sub-office like this one or more often a rural office, has long been part of the fabric of Irish life with people not only using it to transact business but also as a place to met their friends and catch up on the news. Technological development over the last generation has brought huge change in the way people go about their business now and there has been an inevitable impact on post offices too. Photographs of local post offices form part of our archive here and I am always glad when people turn up old post office pictures and donate them to our collection. In this case, I am grateful to Mick Brown for letting me use this delightful photograph with what looks like an interesting conversation going on outside the office! You will find other great shots in his recent book on Dublin.
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.
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.
Heritage Week at the An Post Museum will be taking place from the 23rd August to the 30th August 2014 here in the GPO Dublin. Please note that the GPO is closed on Sundays.
Heritage Week is a great way for people of all ages to discover and explore Irish history and heritage.
Here at the GPO Dublin, the An Post Museum will be open for free from 10am to 5pm.
There are a number of special tours organised for the week-long festival exploring the history of the Irish Post Office.
Free tickets are available through Eventbrite.
Expressions and tokens of love are never out of fashion, of course, but the tradition of sending cards to someone we love through the post grew rapidly – with cheap postage – from the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1863 the Postmaster General reported that 430,000 valentines passed through the London office alone and added that he saw “ no tendency to abandon” the practice. He wasn’t an old kill-joy but was a bit worried about the greatly increased mail volumes and the extra costs they imposed on the Post Office. The card displayed here, published by the firm of Ernest Nister, is from our archive and is a nice early twentieth example of a picture valentine where the message is conveyed in a rather cute combination of words and pictures.
Keen to do our own bit to keep romance alive, we will have our Museum in the GPO open free on Valentine’s Day this year and visitors who enter a little competition there will have the chance to win one of our new stamp mugs depicting – what else? – a love stamp!
The last few weeks have been busy ones for the postage stamp. First introduced in 1840 to show that postage had been paid on a letter, this small rectangular piece of paper is particularly busy during Christmas and New Year.
Certainly, the introduction of email and text messages allows a wider range of options for communication but for many people, the humble stamp is still first choice to convey letters and messages of goodwill throughout the globe.
Apart from stamp design and the obvious attraction for collectors there is more importantly the personal touch associated with the stamp. There is the care and preparation that someone takes in putting pen to paper, the eager anticipation waiting for that envelope to drop through the letterbox and the knowledge that it has been handled by loved ones hands – modern technology has its place but it doesn’t offer this!
For those who still write letters, finding a stamp will probably mean a trip to the local post office and, more often than not nowadays, what will be sold to them will be a little label that is printed off by the clerk at the counter. The system is convenient in many respects and offers advantages to the Post Office but, for older customers and the traditional stamp collector, it certainly marks a change in the way in which stamps are produced and made available to the public. It is probably a good time, consequently, to recall something of the specialist printing work that went into the production of Irish stamps over the years and at the Irish national stamp exhibition, STAMPA, the An Post Museum & Archive will have some archive sheets on display this weekend.
Understanding and using the different printing techniques and processes, from traditional letter-press or typography to photogravure and offset lithography, calls for specialist knowledge and making stamps requires the collaboration of many different people. Artists and engravers, printers and IT people all contribute to the stamp and along the way they need to draw on others who know about paper and gums as well.
The STAMPA 2013 exhibition is on at the RDS (Anglesea Road entrance) from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th October and is open from 11am to 6pm daily. Admission is €5 for adults and €2 for children.
In just a few short days An Post Museum will be taking part again in the annual festival called Heritage Week.
For those of you who don’t know what Heritage Week is, it is a week long celebration where Irish cultural and heritage institutions take part in celebrating Irish culture and heritage.
This time of year always has a buzz of activity around it for us here in the An Post Museum Office. From organising,tickets, information and telling people about what we are doing to celebrate Heritage Week. Each year we see 2,000 or more people come through the museum during the festival.
For all of us here in the An Post Museum the festival is always exciting, we get to meet wonderful people from all over the world. Some come to the GPO to see where the 1916 Rising took place and it is always bonus when you can show them the museum and tell people about the other aspects of the the Post Office before and after the Rising.
It is lovely to hear back from people on how they enjoyed visiting the exhibition Letters, Lives and Liberty and how they enjoyed learning something new. Many people carry with them wonderful stories of their own about how they are decended from people who either worked directly in the GPO or that their parents worked on the TPO system that the Post Office used to transport mails or that they worked on the telegraphic systems or the counters as clerks at one time. Sometimes you also get to meet people from other post offices from around the world.
Heritage Week at the GPO is a great place for people who have an interest or passion for information on the different sides of Irish history.
Entry is free to the An Post Museum during Heritage Week, so why not come along and join us?
Click on the links to learn more about the festival inside the GPO.
Image of the month – June
This beautiful hat, kindly donated to An Post by Philip Treacy, featured on our 2010 Irish Fashion designer stamps. Irish stamps portray different facets of our history and wide-ranging culture and, when they are used on a letter or post-card going abroad, bring with them a sense of what it is to be Irish. Philip Treacy’s hat and other beautiful creations by a few of our leading designers are currently on display in a temporary exhibition, Fashion & Philately at the GPO, in the An Post Museum.
The image below is of the Philip Treacy Hat on its stamp which was released by An Post in 2010.