Tuesday 22 October 2019

Here's why some of Dublin's post-boxes turned red overnight

An Post have stealthily painted a number of post boxes around the city red as part of a 'heritage campaign' (Photo: Twitter/EmilySugrue)
An Post have stealthily painted a number of post boxes around the city red as part of a 'heritage campaign' (Photo: Twitter/EmilySugrue)

Meadhbh McGrath

People wandering the capital this morning were surprised to find a number of our green post-boxes had turned red overnight.

The red post box has been associated with the UK’s Royal Mail for years, but last night's transformation is an attempt by An Post to take us back in time to 1916, when all our post-boxes were bright red rather than the symbolic green we’re used to today.

To coincide with the GPO’s Witness History exhibition, which opens next weekend, An Post have stealthily painted a number of post-boxes around the city red as part of a “heritage campaign” that will run into the summer.

Anna McHugh, head of communications for An Post, described the campaign as “based around the idea of post boxes as witnesses to history”.

“We were thinking about what our post boxes would have witnessed in 1916, because so many of them are in the same position as they were during Easter Week, and in many cases the same box is there.”

This morning, An Post unveiled the first five boxes at Liberty Hall, Grafton Street, the Royal College of Surgeons, Northumberland Road and Dun Laoghaire.

Four more are to emerge next weekend, with the final one to be revealed closer to the anniversary at the end of April.

Each box invites passers-by to free-text the word printed on the side of the box to the number provided to access an immersive video clip revealing what that post-box saw during the events of Easter Week 1916.

The video linked with the post-box at the end of Grafton Street shows a little boy robbing fruit from a fruit shop, before being shot by a sniper while he was running away.

Another one, attached to a post-box on Northumberland Road, offers the point of view of a British soldier who found himself caught up in the bloody battle on Mount Street bridge. In the video, the soldier dodges bullets from behind a tree, right beside the post box.

As well as the clip, viewers can find out more information about the soldier, and An Post's upcoming exhibition at the GPO.

The campaign received mixed responses on Twitter, with some praising the video clips and others criticising the idea as inappropriate.

Ms McHugh noted that originally, all post boxes across Ireland and the UK were green, before the British post office painted them red in the 1880s.

“One of the first acts after Irish independence was to paint all of the post boxes green again.”

She defended the idea as “a way of bringing history to life. These post boxes really do have great stories to tell.”


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