Newstalk
Newstalk

16.14 11 Jan 2018


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Celebrations are being held in Dublin to mark the 200th year since the General Post Office (GPO) opened for business.

The historical building began operations back in January 1818. In charge at the time was the Post Office Secretary Edward Lees.

A new stamp has also been issued to mark the GPO bicentenary.

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The GPO is indelibly associated with the 1916 Rising, and the events that led to the creation of an independent Irish state.

An Post says its façade along with the Tricolour is an image that evokes a sense of heroism and nationhood.

But the building, designed by Francis Johnston, has seen much more than the events of Easter Week.

The GPO was the focal point of the Easter Sunday commemoration ceremony and parade on O'Connell Street in 2016 | Image: RollingNews.ie

The foundation stone was laid by Lord Whitworth on August 12th 1814, with £60 spent on entertainment for the occasion.

As the century progressed, the GPO presided over an organisation that - through mail, financial services, telegraphs and telephones - touched the lives of countless people every day.

It became the centre of communications in Ireland and, for a few people, an unacceptable manifestation of British influence in the country.

Its occupation on Easter Monday 1916, therefore, was seen as both practical and symbolic.

Irish Army Captain Kate Hanrahan with the Irish Republic proclamation at the official commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising at the GPO in 2016 | Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Reconstruction and extension of the building after it was destroyed was undertaken by an OPW team led by TJ Byrne, who introduced the GPO Arcade, studios for Radio Éireann on the Henry Street wing and the Central Telegraph Office in the Prince’s Street block.

The enlarged public office, formally reopened by WT Cosgrave in 1929, retained elements of Johnston’s design while also introducing some art deco features.

The GPO continues to operate in its original purpose, as the headquarters of the Irish Post Office.


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