The post box at Clonmethan

You may have seen the post box near the entrance to the Clonmethan graveyard. It is located set into a wall at the entrance to what was once the Rectory (now a private house). This post box is quite rare we believe, and below is a brief outline of its history.

The post box is rare in that in has both royal and Saorstát Éireann insignia. Looking at the post box (see photo above), the royal insignia are those of King Edward VII, who reigned from 22 January 1901 – 6 May 1910. Thus, this post box was installed within this period. Based on data from the UK’s Postal Museum, it is an Edward VII Type C wall box. This type of box was used from 1904-1910, and was supplied by W. T. Allen and Company, Lambeth Hill, London (who ceased business in 1955). W. T. Allen outsourced manufacture of these post boxes to James Maude & Co, of Mansfield. Thus, we can narrow down the installation of this box to sometime in the period 1904-1910.

Saorstát Éireann existed from 6 December 1922 – 29 December 1937, after which the Republic of Ireland was established. Saorstát Éireann assumed the various state services from the British over several years from 1922. In terms of postal services, it was not until 1925 that the transition was fully complete. During this time, the red British post boxes were painted green, with the letters S.E. (for Saorstát Éireann) painted on. It was not until 1928 that an insignia for Saorstát Éireann was agreed, at which point it could be applied to assorted items of the state, including post boxes.

Ireland of the 1920s was agricultural, with little industry. Thus, despite the State wanting to source locally, fully replacing post boxes was not very feasible given the lack of iron foundries. According to a book by Stephen Ferguson, some foundries in Dublin, Athy, Wexford and Limerick were used to make post boxes over the years. In the case of the box at Clonmethan, either the door was replaced, or the S.E. insignia somehow attached. The door visually appears remarkably like the Class C box mentioned above, suggesting the latter may have been the case, but we cannot be certain.

The Department of Posts and Telegraphs (or P&T) existed from 1922 to until 1984 – when it was abolished and split into An Post and Telecom Eireann. Throughout this entire period, any newly installed post boxes typically carried the P&T symbol on the door, and most of the boxes with the S.E. insignia were replaced. In the case of Clonmethan, this did not happen. Thus, we have a post box with royal insignia dating it from 1904 to 1910, and a door dated from 1928-1937. We are not sure how many post boxes still have this dual provenance with the S.E. symbol intact, but to our best knowledge such boxes are quite rare.

Do post some letters if you are passing by, it will help keep the post box in active use in our community.