20th March 2018 Ireland Troubles & Transition 1900 to 1930 – Peter Wood

On Tuesday March 20th, Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Peter Wood who presented on the topic ‘Ireland Troubles & Transition 1900-1930’.  This was a very informative talk through this period of Irish history illustrated by postal history and full of nuggets of philatelic information.  The first of these related to the use of labels on envelopes:  in 1907 Sinn Fein, one of many Irish Nationalist groups, produced labels promoting their cause and these were regularly affixed next to the stamp.  The British government took exception to this and so the GPO introduced a ban on ‘stamp like labels’ being used on the front of covers in case they were mistaken for stamps.  Subsequently, all such labels were required to be on the back of the envelope.

Peter then moved on to the First World War.  Ireland home rule was legislated for in 1912 but suspended for the duration of the war.  A number of Irish regiments were formed, both from the South and from Ulster and there were examples of Prisoner of War mail from the internment camp used by the Germans to house ‘Irish’ troops – in fact, anyone with an Irish name was sent there.  The German had this segregation as they hoped to persuade Irish Nationalists to fight for Germany in return for an Irish Free State.  Other Great War covers included those from German POW’s interned in Ireland.

We then moved on to the 1916 Easter uprising which included covers damaged during the fighting, which had been centred on the Dublin GPO.  The Easter Uprising was followed by the fight for independence; once that had been achieved there was civil war over the terms of union, along with the partition of Ulster. Material from 1922 onward showed how post was delivered during the transition to independence.  Initially, the GPO acted as the postal agency and as there were no Irish stamps available, British stamps were used – so covers from Ireland fall into the category of British stamps ‘used abroad’.  Once Irish overprinted stamps were available, there was a transition period when both GB and overprints could be used in both GB and Ireland.  By April 1922, Irish mail had to use Irish stamps and GB stamps were subject to postage due, but because the stamps were still GB overprints, there were complaints that the postage due rate of twice the deficit was unfair as the GPO had still received the revenue for the stamp. The postage due rate was reduced, and Peter showed a range of taxed covers illustrating these permutations.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday April 3rd at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when John Walker will be visiting to talk about ‘Postal History of eth Confederate States of America’. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.