Dramatic echoes of ’18 celebrate GPO 200
Thursday 11th January, 2018: Birthplace of a revolution, palace of commerce and communications, beating heart of a city and post office. This year, Dublin and Ireland’s General Post Office reaches the 200th Anniversary of its opening, the oldest, still functioning postal headquarters in the world.
A specially commissioned performance from leading theatre company Fishamble and the issuing of a celebratory Bicentenary stamp are among An Post’s events marking this significant birthday of Ireland’s leading public building.
Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment unveiled a new stamp commemorating the Bicentenary, based on an 1820 engraved image by Robert Havell and Son. A specially produced first day cover envelope features a drawing signed (1814) by Francis Johnston titled ‘Profile and Front of the New General Post Office Portico Sackville Street’. (Reproduced courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive) Both are available at main post offices, at Dublin’s GPO and online at irishstamps.ie
An Post’s celebration of 200 years of this great building will mark the GPO’s place in history and its continued future at the centre of Irish life and business. Designed by leading architect of the period, Francis Johnston, Dublin’s GPO is a remarkable building. Its fine classical façade lends architectural distinction to the city’s main street, while its place as the headquarters of the 1916 rebels guarantees it an emotional appeal which transcends its role as the headquarters of An Post and Ireland’s busiest Post Office.
Kicking off the Bicentenary celebrations today was a short site-specific play by Colin Murphy, for Fishamble Theatre in the main GPO hall in which Sir Edward Lees, Post Office Secretary in 1818 describes his magnificent new Post Office, 19th Century Dublin, his fears of highwaymen robbing mail coaches and the notion that new-fangled postboxes might be introduced - “Imagine posting a letter into a box!” The 15-minute production will run on the hour at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm today, Thursday, and at 11am,12 Noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm on Saturday, January 13th. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
An exhibition in the main hall charts the history of the building and a free Bicentenary postcard will be available to every visitor to the GPO during 2018, together with a souvenir postmark on purchase of the commemorative stamp. Further events will be announced during the year.