Monday, 9 May 2016

Incoherent Postings

As part of this year's commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, An Post painted ten postboxes red in various locations around Dublin (see here for the news story). This is to remind us what they would have looked like in 1916, prior to Ireland's independence; it's especially poignant since although the dynamic bustle of the city constantly changes around them, many postboxes have remained in their location -- like trusty but silent witnesses of the unfolding history -- for over a century. Not only is it quite striking to see red postboxes dotted around the capital (even for someone like me with partial red-green colour-blindness), but it's also a neat reminder of how much difference a coat of paint makes.

On my recent trip to Dublin, I was fortunate enough to spot one of these commemorative boxes at the bottom of Grafton Street, just outside the famous Peterson tobacconist. But I was disappointed to see that it is not, in fact, a former Royal Mail postbox; as you can see, it displays the "P¬T" cypher, representing Ireland's Ministry of Post and Telegraphs (mercifully with the same acronym as Gaeilge -- Aire Puist agus Telegrafa). But that ministry wasn't established until 1924, after Irish independence. So this postbox couldn't have been here in 1916, and wouldn't have ever been red. Perhaps that's why a couple of disdainful taggers left their own cypher on it; their sense of history compelled them to mark out the potential for incoherent postings.