General Post Office, Dublin

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General Post Office
Ard-Oifig an Phoist
General Post Office Dublin 20060803.jpg
The General Post Office in 2006
The General Post Office is in central Dublin.
The General Post Office is in central Dublin.
Location of the General Post Office in central Dublin
General information
Type Post office and administrative offices
Architectural style Greek Revival, neoclassical
Location O'Connell Street, Dublin 1
Coordinates 53°20′58″N 6°15′40″W / 53.349334°N 6.261075°W / 53.349334; -6.261075
Construction started 12 August 1814
Inaugurated 6 January 1818
Cost £50,000 pounds sterling
Owner Office of public works
Design and construction
Architect Francis Johnston

The General Post Office (GPO; Irish: Ard-Oifig an Phoist) in Dublin is the headquarters of An Post, the Irish Post Office, and Dublin's principal post office. Sited in the centre of O'Connell Street, the city's main thoroughfare, it is one of Ireland's most famous buildings, and was the last of the great Georgian public buildings erected in the capital.

Architecture

The foundation-stone of the building, which was designed by Francis Johnston, was laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth, on 12 August 1814, attended by the Post-Masters-General, Charles O'Neill, 1st Earl O'Neill and Laurence Parsons, 2nd Earl of Rosse.[1][2] The structure was completed in the short space of approximately three years at a cost (depending on sources) of between £50,000[3] and £80,000.[4]

The Greek hexastyle portico of the General Post Office, completed in 1818. The Royal Coat of Arms, similar to those at King's Inns and the Irish Houses of Parliament, was removed after independence.

The front, which extends 67.1 metres (220 ft), has an Ionic portico (24.4 metres (80 ft) wide), of six fluted Ionic columns, 137.16 centimetres (54 inches) in diameter. The frieze of the entablature is highly enriched, and in the tympanum of the pediment were the royal arms until removed following restoration in the 1920s. On the acroteria of the pediment are three statues by John Smyth:[5] when facing the building Mercury on the left, with his Caduceus and purse; Fidelity on the right, with a hound at her feet and a key held in her right hand (due to these features it is argued[by whom?] that the statue is in fact of Hecate); and Hibernia in the centre, resting on her spear and holding a harp. The entablature, with the exception of the architrave, is continued along the rest of the front; the frieze, however, is not decorated over the portico. A balustrade surmounts the cornice of the building, which is 15.2 metres (50 ft) from the ground.

With the exception of the portico, which is of Portland stone, the main building is of mountain granite. The elevation has three stories, of which the lower or basement is rusticated. The portico occupies the entire height of the structure.

History

A sign on the external wall of the General Post Office, with the building's name (Irish: Árd-Oifig an Phuist) in traditional Gaelic script and using an older spelling that predates Irish orthography reforms of the 1960s.

The General Post Office in Ireland was first located in High Street in Dublin moving to Fishamble Street in 1689, to Sycamore Alley in 1709 and then in 1755 to Bardin's Chocolate House on the site where the Commercial Buildings used to be (now the Central Bank building) off Dame Street.[6][4] It was afterwards removed to a larger house opposite the Bank of Ireland building on College Green. On 6 January 1818, the new post-office in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) was opened for business.[7]

During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO served as the headquarters of the uprising's leaders. It was from outside this building on the 24th of April 1916, that Patrick Pearse read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.[8]The building was destroyed by fire in the course of the rebellion, save for the granite facade, and not rebuilt until 1929, by the Irish Free State government. An original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was displayed in the museum at the GPO. The museum was closed at the end of May 2015 and replaced by a new visitor centre to commemorate the 1916 Rising, 'GPO Witness History', in March 2016.[9] The building has remained a symbol of Irish nationalism. In commemoration of the Rising, a statue depicting the death of the mythical hero Cúchulainn sculpted by Oliver Sheppard in 1911 was sited at the command post in the centre of the GPO main hall and is now housed in the front of the building. The statue was featured on the Irish ten shilling coin of 1966, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Rising. Despite its fame as an iconic place of Irish freedom, ground rent for the GPO continued to be paid to English and American landlords until the 1980s.[10]

The broadcasting studios of 2RN, which later became Radio Éireann, were located at the GPO from 1928 until 1974.[11][not in citation given] Draws for Prize Bonds are held weekly, on Fridays, in the building.

Nelson's Pillar was located in the centre of O'Connell Street adjacent to the GPO, until it was destroyed by Irish republicans in an explosion in 1966. The Spire of Dublin was erected on the site of the Pillar in 2003.

Images

References

  1. ^ Haydn, Joseph (1851). The Book of Dignities. London: Longmans, Brown, Green and Longmans. p. 461. 
  2. ^ M'Gregor, John James (1821). Picture of Dublin:comprehending a history of the city; an accurate account of its various establishments and institutions and a correct description of all edifices connected with them. Dublin: A.M Graham. p. 40. 
  3. ^ "History & Heritage - Dublin's General Post Office". An Post. Retrieved 23 November 2017. The whole building was built in less than 4 years at a cost of about £50,000 
  4. ^ a b Ferguson, Stephen (2014). The GPO - 200 Years of History. Dublin: Mercier Press. pp. 14–41. ISBN 9781781172773. 
  5. ^ "Irish Architecture Online: 1814 – General Post Office, O'Connell Street, Dublin". Archiseek.com. 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction". X (272). London: J. Limbird. 1827 – via Project Gutenberg. 
  7. ^ McCarty, Denise (23 January 2018). "Bicentenary commemorative stamp honors Ireland's General Post Office". World Stamps. Linns Stamp News. Retrieved 25 March 2018. 
  8. ^ "Easter Rising – Day 1: Rebels on the streets". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-06-25. 
  9. ^ Murphy, Darragh (January 13, 2016). "The GPO then and now". The Irish Times. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  10. ^ "Ceisteanna – Questions: Oral Answers - GPO Ground Rent". Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 328 No. 15. Oireachtas. 19 May 1981. Retrieved 12 October 2017. 
  11. ^ Sexton, Michael (2005). Marconi: the Irish connection. Four Courts Press. p. 104. ISBN 1-85182-841-9. 

External links

  • An Post History and Heritage – The GPO Museum
  • The 1916 Rising by Norman Teeling a ten-painting suite of events of the Easter Rising acquired for permanent display at the GPO

Coordinates: 53°20′58″N 6°15′40″W / 53.349334°N 6.261075°W / 53.349334; -6.261075

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