Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Visit to the GPO Museum

The General Post Office museum, normally two euros, is open for free from now until Christmas 2014. I paid a visit to the museum for an article for Five Suitcases and to update my museum entry in the book.

See the article over on Five Suitcases or read on below.

This post is a little late in coming, but I wanted to pay a visit to the General Post Office museum, called Letters, Lives, and Liberty, before reporting the happy news. Normally, this small collection of exhibits charges a small entrance fee, but they occasionally open the museum for free.

This year, the museum is free (during GPO opening hours) until Christmas. I paid a visit to the museum this week to see what I could see.

In The Frugal Guide: Dublin I only include information I could find about the museum on their website because I was avoiding the admittedly small admission and because the museum does occasionally open their doors for free.

The museum is interesting, but quite small. Without the admission fee, I would highly recommend a visit in the book. The first collection is dedicated to the art of the postage stamp. Pull-out collections and blown-up art highlight various stamp designs used throughout the history of the Irish postal service.

Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising 50-Year Anniversary Stamp Design
Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising 50-Year Anniversary Stamp Design

A few text, video, and physical displays show the evolution of services offered by the postal service and its role in the history and development of the city and Ireland.

During what I assume were the "Wild West" days of Ireland, mail was carried by horse-drawn carriage and protected by armed guards packing short-barreled blunderbusses -- small musket rifles.

The post office used to run more than hard-copy communications in Ireland. Telegraph wireless services operated from radio rooms on the upper floors of the O'Connell Street Post Office. A switchboard with all of the accessories used by teams of operators is on display.

GPO Radio Switchboard
GPO Radio Switchboard

The O'Connell Street location of the Post Office was, of course, the headquarters of the 1916 Easter Rising. On Easter Monday of that year, armed revolutionaries (or terrorists, depending on who is telling the story) stormed the GPO and took it by force. The Irish Proclamation -- their Declaration of Independence -- was read aloud by Patrick Pearse (of Pearse Street fame) from the front steps before the rebels holed up for a siege.

The 1916 Rising Exhibit
The 1916 Rising Exhibit

One corner of the GPO museum is dedicated to the building's role in this rebellion. A hologram projection plays out a scenario re-enactment told by some possible witnesses to the events of the day.

I smiled as an armed rebel burst into the radio room on the screen, shooting the guard on his way in. The heroic ladies operating the switchboards jump in to help the injured man, begging the rebels to allow the wounded British soldier to go to a nearby hospital.

The always honorable (?) rebels graciously and respectfully allow the British soldier (who they had just shot in the gut) to go to a hospital to be patched up. I've never seen such honorable armed rebels! I wonder what a video presentation about the events would look like in a museum in London...

Visiting the Museum

The GPO Museum is open 10:00-17:00 Mon-Sat. Museum admission is 2 euros -- EXCEPT during certain holidays when it is free. 

The museum website has a thorough virtual tour and much more information about the exhibits and displays.

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