Growth of postal service

Communicating with each other is part of being human.

In the great empires of old, messengers travelling on foot or horseback brought instructions from one corner of the land to another. The word post comes from the staging posts established by the Romans along the roads of their empire.

In Ireland, a few great families and churchmen used messengers but no organized postal system emerged until the sixteenth century. Gradually improvements were made with regular posts set up from Dublin to a few major towns in Ireland. The cost of a letter was based on the distance it had to travel and the number of pages it contained. The service was really only open to people who had both money and education.

Post for all

A number of changes in Ireland resulted in the growth of the Post Office

  • Mail coaches introduced in 1789 brought with them improvements in road making and maintenance.
  • The basic one penny letter rate introduced in 1840 finally made the postal service something that everyone could afford.
  • The railway system made transporting mail much more efficient too.
  • The Post Office Savings Bank set up in 1861 and encouraged regular saving.


During the nineteenth century, inventions such as the telegraph and the telephone opened new forms of communication to people and new areas of service to the Post Office.

More recently, new technologies such as the sorting of mail by machine, e-mail and the internet, are presenting new challenges and opportunities to Post Offices worldwide. People will always communicate with each other and through the many services it offers An Post will continue to make that possible.