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Why we shouldn’t try to scrub away our royal relics

Mary Kenny


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Many postboxes around Ireland still bear the insignias of Queen Victoria and George VII

Many postboxes around Ireland still bear the insignias of Queen Victoria and George VII

An Irish harp flanked by the British lion and unicorn and topped with a crown on the Four Courts in Dublin

An Irish harp flanked by the British lion and unicorn and topped with a crown on the Four Courts in Dublin

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Many postboxes around Ireland still bear the insignias of Queen Victoria and George VII

Shortly after Ireland became a republic in 1949, an attempt was made to scrape the royal insignia off our postboxes. The boxes had been painted green after the establishment of the Free State in 1922 but the monograms of British monarchs — Victoria, Edward VII and George V — remained beneath the national colour.

Senator David Norris once recalled how upset his relations in the midlands were at the proposal. They were Irish Protestants of the Southern unionist tradition. Although they fully accepted an independent Irish state, they felt distressed that an elemental, if symbolic, part of their history should be erased.


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