Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Dungarvan's Ironwork Heritage Part 2 - Pillar Post Box

William Fraher, curator of Waterford County Museum continues this week to point out what can be seen in Dungarvan and Abbeyside.  So next time you are out for a stroll look out for these gems hidden in plain sight. Look up, look down, and look around!  

Pillar Post Box

Pillar boxes were first introduced in England around 1853.  The first boxes were introduced to Ireland in 1855 at Belfast, Ballymena and Dublin and most were painted a dark bronze green colour.  In June 1855 the House of Commons established a select committee to enquire into the postal arrangements for the south of Ireland. The chairman was Thomas Meagher, M.P. for Waterford.  The post office surveyor and author Anthony Trollope contributed 100 pages to the report of the committee.

The first record of a post box in Dungarvan is recorded in the minute book of Dungarvan Town Commissioners in February 1861.  Henry Anthony, Chairman wrote to the Postmaster General asking for a second pillar letter receiver to be placed in Abbeyside: ‘That the Municipal Borough of Dungarvan comprises two wards, first that of Dungarvan and secondly the Abbeyside Ward. That in the said Borough there is but one letter receiver…That the Abbeyside Ward contains over 300 houses with a population of over 900 inhabitants…is placed at a considerable distance from the post office in Dungarvan…That there are over twenty shops carrying on extensive business in the  flour, bread & grocery trade, besides several coal merchants, that a large portion of the sea faring population reside therein also several ship owners…there is a Roman Catholic Chapel, also a Police Station the fixed strength of which is ten men – the Parish Priest, the Resident Magistrate & County Sub Inspectors of Constabulary also reside there…That in the opinion of the memorialists one receiver is quite inadequate to supply the wants of a rising town of Dungarvan, and that a second is much required contiguous to Bridge Street’.

There is no further reference to this in the minutes so presumably Abbeyside remained without a pillar box.

The oldest surviving post box in Dungarvan can be seen in Church Street near Merrys.  According to Stephen Ferguson, author of ‘The Irish Post Box’ boxes bearing the monogram of George V (1910-1936) are uncommon.  These boxes were originally painted red, a colour introduced in 1874 as standard.  When the Irish Free State was established it was decided that all post boxes be painted green which was known as ‘Saorstát Green’. In February 1922 the Chief Clerk instructed postmasters around the country that: The Postmaster General of the Irish Free State has decided that in future all Letter Boxes are to be painted emerald green instead of P.O. red. The words ‘An Post’ in Gaelic character should be inserted in yellow over the doors of the Letter Boxes, black paint should be continued to be used for the bases of the Pillar Boxes’. Harrington’s of Cork supplied the green paint for all the Munster letter boxes.  A few months later the government ordered that the letters ‘S.E.’ be added. 

It is important that this rare survivor of our postal heritage be maintained and preserved.

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