Thursday 5 December 2019

Fourteen stamps have had connections to the county

IRELAND has been producing commemorative postage stamps since June 1929.

But surprisingly few Wexford people, places and events have received the stamp of approval from the postal authorities.

John Barry, father of the American navy and a native of Tacumshane in Wexford, provided the first Wexford stamp when Oifig an Phoist (forerunner of An Post) issued two stamps commemorating the erection of the John Barry statue at Crescent Quay in Wexford in 1956. Commodore Barry would feature on another stamp in 2003, as part of an Irish Mariners issue.

After the 1956 Barry issue, Wexford did not have links to an Irish stamp for another 16 years. In 1973, to mark the staging of the World Ploughing Championships at a muddy Wellingtonbridge site, two stamps were issued, though neither mentioned the location of the championships, each simply bearing the denomination and the words ' Treabhadh (meaning ploughing) 73'.

Surprisingly, given Ireland's love affair with the Kennedys, there were no Irish stamps to commemorate President JFK's visit to these shores in 1963. But in 1988 a single 28p stamp was issued to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of the charismatic President, whose family had emigrated to the US from Dunganstown in Co. Wexford in the middle of the 19th century. 2013 sees the 50th anniversary of President JFK's death, and of his official visit to Ireland, and there are high hopes (particularly in Wexford) that An Post will issue at least one new JFK stamp.

In 1987 Wexford Opera Festival was included in a set of four stamps to celebrate traditional Irish festivals. The 30p stamp featured an illustration of an opera singer onstage, with a curtain in the background pulled aside to reveal a view of Wexford bridge and the quays. Ten years later, in 1997, Wexford would again figure in an issue of four stamps as a quartet of important Irish lighthouses featured Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world.

An Post and the GAA came together in the year 2000 to name a 'Hurling Team of the Millenium', essentially a 15-member side comprising the best hurlers of all time. The stamps were issued in sheets of 15 and included two Wexfordmen from the golden era of the Fifties: Nick O'Donnell of St Aidan's in Enniscorthy and Bobby Rackard of Rathnure. The team and stamp selections were dogged by controversy as Bobby's legendary brother Nickey was omitted (the full-forward position going to Cork's Ray Cummins) but this was corrected to some degree the following year when a Nickey Rackard stamp appeared among four marking the naming of nominees for the GAA Hall of Fame at Croke Park.

New Ross famine ship replica The Dunbrody was featured in a set of three commemorative stamps in 2005 coinciding with the arrival of the Tall Ships Race to Ireland.

And, staying with a maritime theme, to mark the centenary of the Rosslare-Fishguard ferry service, An Post issued two stamps in 2006.

That adds up to a total of 14 individual stamps with direct Wexford links in Ieland's 82 years of printing commemorative postage stamps.