GPO in Dublin marks 200th anniversary of opening

The GPO has celebrated the 200th anniversary of its opening with a specially commissioned play; from left to right; Mrs Draper (Camille Ross), The Widow (Mary Murray), Lady Jane Lees (Liz FitzGibbon) and Sir Edward Lees (Rory Nolan). Picture by Maxwell Photography
John Monaghan

THE General Post Office in Dublin, the oldest postal headquarters in the world which is still functioning, has celebrated the 200th anniversary of its opening.

The issuing of a special bi-centenary stamp by An Post and an exhibition detailing the history of the GPO have marked the anniversary.

Aside from its central role in Ireland's postal service, the GPO was at the heart of the 1916 Easter Rising as the headquarters of the rebel leaders.

Extensive shelling during the Rising left the building - which had taken four years to build - as a burning mound of rubble, with only the frontal facade and portico surviving.

The Free State government made the rebuilding of the GPO a priority and it was officially reopened for business in 1929.

On Thursday, the celebrations kicked off at the GPO with a 15-minute play written by Colin Murphy in which actor Rory Nolan, playing the character of Sir Edward Lees, the Post Office Secretary in 1818, described the new building and its challenges.

Originally located in College Green, as the postal service expanded a decision was made to move to O'Connell Street, opening on January 6 1818.

An architect from Armagh, Francis Johnston, was tasked with designing the iconic building, and also created Nelson's Pillar, which stood outside the GPO until the IRA blew it up in 1966.

Every visitor to the GPO in 2018 will receive a free bi-centenary postcard and further events to mark the anniversary are to be announced during the year.

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