General Post Office (Dublin)
Overview
 
The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin is the headquarters of the Irish postal service, An Post
An Post
An Post is the State-owned provider of postal services in the Republic of Ireland. An Post provides a universal postal service to all parts of the country as a member of the Universal Postal Union...

, and Dublin's principal post office. Sited in the centre of O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare. It measures 49 m in width at its southern end, 46 m at the north, and is 500 m in length...

, the city's main thoroughfare, it is one of Ireland's most famous buildings, and was the last of the great Georgian
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 public buildings erected in the capital.
The GPO was at first located in a small building on the site of where the Commercial Buildings used to be (now the Central Bank
Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland
The Central Bank of Ireland is the financial services regulator of Ireland and historically the central bank. The bank was the issuer of Irish pound banknotes and coinage until the introduction of the euro currency, and now provides this service for the European Central Bank.The bank was founded...

 building) off Dame Street
Dame Street
Dame Street is a large thoroughfare in Dublin, Ireland. The street is the location of many banks such as AIB, Ulster Bank and the Central Bank of Ireland. It is close to Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College, Dublin, founded in 1592, the entrance to which is a popular meeting spot.During...

, and was afterwards removed to a larger house opposite the Bank of Ireland
Bank of Ireland
The Bank of Ireland is a commercial bank operation in Ireland, which is one of the 'Big Four' in both parts of the island.Historically the premier banking organisation in Ireland, the Bank occupies a unique position in Irish banking history...

 building on College Green.
Encyclopedia
The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin is the headquarters of the Irish postal service, An Post
An Post
An Post is the State-owned provider of postal services in the Republic of Ireland. An Post provides a universal postal service to all parts of the country as a member of the Universal Postal Union...

, and Dublin's principal post office. Sited in the centre of O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare. It measures 49 m in width at its southern end, 46 m at the north, and is 500 m in length...

, the city's main thoroughfare, it is one of Ireland's most famous buildings, and was the last of the great Georgian
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 public buildings erected in the capital.

Architecture

The GPO was at first located in a small building on the site of where the Commercial Buildings used to be (now the Central Bank
Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland
The Central Bank of Ireland is the financial services regulator of Ireland and historically the central bank. The bank was the issuer of Irish pound banknotes and coinage until the introduction of the euro currency, and now provides this service for the European Central Bank.The bank was founded...

 building) off Dame Street
Dame Street
Dame Street is a large thoroughfare in Dublin, Ireland. The street is the location of many banks such as AIB, Ulster Bank and the Central Bank of Ireland. It is close to Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College, Dublin, founded in 1592, the entrance to which is a popular meeting spot.During...

, and was afterwards removed to a larger house opposite the Bank of Ireland
Bank of Ireland
The Bank of Ireland is a commercial bank operation in Ireland, which is one of the 'Big Four' in both parts of the island.Historically the premier banking organisation in Ireland, the Bank occupies a unique position in Irish banking history...

 building on College Green. On 6 January 1818, the new post-office in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street is Dublin's main thoroughfare. It measures 49 m in width at its southern end, 46 m at the north, and is 500 m in length...

) was opened for business. The foundation-stone of the building, which is built after a design of Francis Johnston
Francis Johnston (architect)
See Francis Johnson for English architect of similar name.Francis Johnston was an Irish architect, best known for building the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, Dublin.-Life:...

, was laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth
Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth
Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth GCB, PC , known as The Lord Whitworth between 1800 and 1813 and as The Viscount Whitworth between 1813 and 1815, was a British diplomat and politician.-Early years:...

, on 12 August 1814, attended by the Post-Masters-General, Charles O'Neill, 1st Earl O'Neill‎ and Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse
Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse
Lawrence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse , known as Sir Lawrence Parsons, Bt, from 1791 to 1807, was an Irish peer....

. The structure was completed in the short space of three years for the sum of £50,000.

The front, which extends 67.1 metres (220 ft), has an Ionic portico
Portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

 (24.4 metres (80 ft) wide), of six fluted Ionic columns, 137.16 centimetres (54 inches) in diameter. The frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 of the entablature
Entablature
An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals. Entablatures are major elements of classical architecture, and are commonly divided into the architrave , the frieze ,...

 is highly enriched, and in the tympanum
Tympanum (architecture)
In architecture, a tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments. Most architectural styles include this element....

 of the pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

 were the royal arms until removed following restoration in the 1920s. On the acroteria of the pediment are three statues by John Smyth: Mercury
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

 on the right, with his Caduceus
Caduceus
The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings...

 and purse; Fidelity
Fidelity
"Fidelity" is the quality of being faithful or loyal. Its original meaning regarded duty to a lord or a king, in a broader sense than the related concept of fealty. Both derive from the Latin word fidēlis, meaning "faithful or loyal"....

 on the left, with her finger on her lip and a key in her hand; and Hibernia
Hibernia (personification)
Hibernia as a national personification representing Ireland appeared in numerous cartoon and drawings, especially in the nineteenth century.As depicted in frequent cartoons in Punch, a magazine outspokenly hostile to Irish nationalism, Hibernia was shown as "Britannia's younger sister". She is an...

 in the centre, resting on her spear and holding a harp. The entablature, with the exception of the architrave
Architrave
An architrave is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. It is an architectural element in Classical architecture.-Classical architecture:...

, is continued along the rest of the front; the frieze, however, is not decorated over the portico. A balustrade surmounts the cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 of the building, which is 15.2 metres (50 ft) from the ground.

With the exception of the portico, which is of Portland stone
Portland stone
Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major...

, the whole is of mountain granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

. The elevation has three stories, of which the lower or basement is rusticated
Rustication (architecture)
thumb|upright|Two different styles of rustication in the [[Palazzo Medici-Riccardi]] in [[Florence]].In classical architecture rustication is an architectural feature that contrasts in texture with the smoothly finished, squared block masonry surfaces called ashlar...

, and in this respect it resembles the India House
India House (Indian High Commission in London)
India House is the seat of the Indian High Commission in London. Located at Aldwych, the is situated between Bush House and what was Marconi House . It faces both the London School of Economics and King's College London. Proposed in 1925 by the Indian High Commissioner Sir Atul Chatterjee, the...

 of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, where a rusticated basement is introduced, although the portico occupies the entire height of the structure.

History

During the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 of 1916, the GPO served as the headquarters of the uprising's leaders. The assault by the British forces extensively damaged the building and it was not repaired until the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 government took up the task some years later. The original columns outside are still pocked with bullet-marks. An original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic is on display in the An Post museum at the GPO, where an exhibition highlights the history of the postal service and the GPO. The building has remained a symbol of Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

. In commemoration of the Rising, a statue depicting the death of the mythical hero Cúchulainn
Cúchulainn
Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

 sculpted by Oliver Sheppard
Oliver Sheppard
Oliver Sheppard RHA was an Irish sculptor, most famous for his 1911 bronze statue of the mythical Cuchullain dying in battle.-Family:...

 in 1911 is housed in the front of the building and was featured on the Irish ten shilling coin
Irish ten shilling coin
The ten shilling coin was a subdivision of the pre-decimal Irish pound, worth ½ of a pound, the highest value coin in the pre-decimal system....

 of 1966. Despite its fame as an iconic place of Irish freedom, ground rent continued to be paid to English and American landlords until the 1980s.

The broadcasting studios of 2RN
2RN
2RN was the first radio broadcasting station in the Irish Free State. It began broadcasting on 1 January 1926 and continued until 1933, when it was succeeded by Radio Athlone...

, which later became Radio Éireann, were located at the GPO from 1928 until the 1960s. Draws for Prize Bond
Prize Bond
A Prize Bond is a non-interest bearing security issued on behalf of the Irish Minister for Finance by the Prize Bond Company Limited. Funds raised are used to offset government borrowing and are refundable to the bond owner on demand...

s are held weekly, on Fridays, in the building.

Nelson's Pillar
Nelson's Pillar
The Nelson Pillar , known locally as Nelson's Pillar or simply The Pillar, was a large granite pillar topped by a statue of Horatio Nelson in the middle of O'Connell Street, Dublin...

 was formerly located in the centre of O'Connell Street adjacent to the GPO, however the Pillar was destroyed by the IRA
Irish Republican Army (1922–1969)
The original Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence 1919–1921. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, the IRA in the 26 counties that were to become the Irish Free State split between supporters and...

 in an explosion in 1966. The Spire of Dublin
Spire of Dublin
The Spire of Dublin, officially titled the Monument of Light is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument in height, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland.-Details:...

 now takes a dominant position on the site of the Pillar.

External links


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