Coronavirus

An update.

North and South, we are in self-isolation. The protocols are slightly different. But basically, we are only allowed out of our homes to work in “essential jobs”, to shop for necessities and to have short periods of exercise.

At this point, public transport, including cross-border services are still running but services have been reduced because of the crisis.

My wife and I are of course retired.

One of our sons had flu-like symptoms and is elf isolating with his wife and three children. Happily his symptoms have not developed and the family can come out of their home on Thursday.

My second son is at home with his baby son. My daughter-in-law is an essential worker, on the front line in a hospital.

We are doing fine. Obviously I am missing my day trips but really the worst part is not having to stay in the house…thats what I do most days. The worst part is that there is just no choice.

Unfortunately, I have no kiloware to sort. So I have ordered some items from ebay.

For young folks, there might well be a rise in the birth rate at Christmas.

For older folks, I expect the divorce rate will soar. And perhaps the murder rate. Seriously though, my wife and I will get thru this. And more importantly, this nation will get thru it. Ireland has been thru worse and whether it was 1798, 1847/8, or 1916, we had great people who rose to the challenge. It is our turn to emulate them.

Stay safe everyone!

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New Issues 2020: March

Just one new issue in March.

Five stamps to commemorate Pioneering Irish Women issued on 5th March.

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The stamps featured Carmel Snow (fashion editor at “Vogue”), Maureen O’Hara (actress), Lilian Bland (airplane builder and pilot), Maeve Kyle (athlete) and Sarah Purser (artist).

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I picked up the stamps at the General Post Office and I note that a small stage was being set up for a presentation later in the day. I am happy to say that I have met Maeve Kyle (91 years old and a three time Olympian) on a few occasions.

I am really happy to see this issue. Back in the 1990s, I wrote an article for “Irish Stamp News” and noted that at that stage, only six women (four of them nuns) had been honoured on Irish stamps.

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Maureen O’Hara

Too early to post about New Issues for Match.

This year 2020, marks the centenary of the Birth of Maureen O’Hara. She was a frequent co-star of John Wayne. She died aged 95 in 2015.

She was featured as one of five Pioneering Irish Women in a set of stamp last week.

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I sent this postcard to myself on the first day of issue.

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New Issues 2020: February

Two New Issues in February.

The first, War of Independence (Struggle for Sovereignty) was issued on 20th February. The pre-publicity for this issue stated that two stamps would be issued in se-tenant format. Only one, based on the painting “Men of the South” by Seán Keating was issued.

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The second stamp depicting the Government of Ireland Act was not issued and as can be seen from the block of four “Men of the South” stamps, the decision to withdraw the second stamp seems to have been taken with plenty of time to make amendments before the date of issue.

The reason for withdrawal of the second stamp might be clarified in the next issue of “The Collector” quarterly brochure. It is speculated that the design showing a map of Ireland with a “border”…partition being a basic part of the Government of Ireland Act was unacceptable. My own guess would be that a specifically British Act of Parliament was considered unsuitable for issue on an Irish stamp.

The second set of stamps, the Irish Abroad was issued on 27th February. Three stamps at National Rate and two at International Rate.

The National Rate stamps show a photograph of the famous Galtymore Dance Hall in Cricklewood, London. The “Galty” was the hub of London-Irish life from the 1950s to 1990s and all of Irelands top showbands and folk acts appeared there. It is now long closed. The stamp recognises the role of Irish centres abroad.

The other two “N” rate stamps feature Dame Kathleen Lonsdale (scientist), Richard Harris (actor), Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (composer), Edna O’Brien (author), Fr Michael Kelly (missionary) and Mary Elmes (humanitarian who facilitated the escape of two hundred Jewish children from Vichy France).

The two International Rate stamps show a photograph “Departing Dublin Airport, 1969” and feature suitcases. This differs from the design shown in “The Collector” The second stamp features a painting “Emigrants Letter & Envelope”  by Geraldine O’Reilly.

 

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Curragh Camp Post Office

One of the most historic post offices in Ireland closed its doors at the end of last year. It is claimed that the Curragh Camp in County Kildare is the second oldest post office in Ireland.

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Curragh Camp is the Headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces.

Armies including the Jacobite Army of Tyrconnell (1689) and the United Irishmen (1798) had assembled here. And British garrisons had been stationed in the area in the early 19th century. The first permanent British camp comprising several barracks, two churches and a post office was set up in 1855.

As the prime British garrison in Ireland, it saw much traumatic history. The mutiny of British officers at the camp in 1914 in protest against Home Rule for example.

After the War of Independence (1919-1921) Curragh Camp was handed over to the Free State Army and on 16th May 1922, the British Flag was taken down and replaced by the new National Flag of Ireland. It was hoisted by Lt General J J O’Connell.

It was the main base for the Free State Army during the Civil War (1922-23). Anti-Treaty rebels were executed here.

In World War Two (or “The Emergency” as it was known in neutral Ireland) anti-government subversives in the IRA were detained here. British and German sailors and airmen who had landed in Ireland, often deserting were held here in separate compounds were detained here. Due to a separate Treaty, Americans were re-patriated.

Defence personnel who were destined to serve abroad as United Nations peacekeepers in such places as (ex-Belgian) Congo, Cyprus, Lebanon, Golan Heights and several other places trained here.

Curragh is still the Military Academy. The cadets who performed the graveside drill at Arlington cemetry at the funeral of President John F Kennedy graduated here. It is the main training depot for new recruits as well as the Equitation School and Sciathán Fiannóglaigh an Airm (the Army Ranger Wing-Special Forces) and the first women to serve in the Defence Forces were trained here.

But the Curragh is home to military families with schools, shops an services such as churches…and the post office, now in a different location.

The Post Office building is historic. Generations of military men and women of the British Empire, the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland have gone thru its doors to post (say) birthday cards to Birmingham, England or Galway, Ireland. Outgoing mail to husbands and fathers serving in Liberia or East Timor. And prisoners mail…Ireland, Britain and Germany going in and out of this building.

It is an important part of our national story. It must be preserved, hopefully as a Museum of Military Postal History.

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The Irish International Coin Fair

Yesterday in Dublin.

Numismatics

This is my first real experience of a Numismatic Event. Coin Dealers are usually peripheral figures at Stamp Fairs. There is of course an overlap.

Prior to going to a major Stamp Exhibition/Fair or the local monthly Collector Fairs, it is always a good idea to manage expectations. Too often, I have looked forward to events which have been disappointing and occasionally when I had low expectations, I have been pleasantly surprised.

This was actually a pretty big deal.

This “Euro note” is an amusing souvenir marking fifty years of the event.

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I went (as I thought) prepared. First off, there was only one stamp dealer and certainly I heard people express disappointment that there were not more present.

I did not pick up any stamps yesterday but I did pick up six First Day Covers from the 1960s and 1970s. As I explained in a recent video, I find these hand written, addressed covers from a time when the Stamp Collecting hobby was at its peak to be interesting. They are at rock bottom prices. So I was happy about that.

Postcards .I bought over thirty cards. Actually I bought them as postmarks from the 1900-1922 pre-Irish Independence era. A very different Ireland …British stamps and “English” postmarks. Some duplication with postmarks that I already have but around two-thirds are “new” to me.

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Four of these postcards are shown above. I did not even look at the front of the cards until I was on the train home. Surprisingly none are topographical (views). They are mostly about some form of relationship or humour and even two or three that feature characters from Charles Dickens novels. So I think these cards were previously owned by a collector.

A word about the Valentine card. There is no message or signature but it was posted in Galway in 1911. The addressee lived in Dublin.

Coins. Well I took a wants list of just ten USA coins…quarters from the States/Territories. And I picked up seven of them. So in that series, I am missing just three …Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin. I suppose “collecting” implies a start and a finish…eg fifty states and six territories but USA seems to have taken it a step further with national parks etc on quarters and other themes on other coins. And in a curious way this makes collecting seem endless and less satisfying. There is a balance between having enough to collect and having too many to collect.

I also picked up one Irish sixpence.

I look on this Coin Fair as a learning experience. Some things to ponder.

1…if I am serious about Coins as a secondary hobby, then I have to consider means of storage/display.

2…several walks around the hall, I got to size up the Dealers, the Irish regulars, the English and international visitors. And to some extent, I got to see coin values and the premium attached to condition. I have always been satisfied with collecting circulated coins so I have paid little attention to condition.

3…sizing up the coin collectors. Going back almost fifty years, it seems that Stamp Collecting was more popular than Coin Collecting. It seems that this has changed. And while most coin collectors seem middle aged and elderly, there was a reasonable number of younger folks.

4…the impact of the Euro. Without fact-checking, I think the Euro currency is used in 19 member states of the European Union and at least four other nations (Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican). This means that on each trip to Dublin, I come home with euro coins in various denominations. Last night I brought home just nine coins…three Irish, three Spanish, two German and one French. Thru tourism, we don’t usually notice the common coins but sometimes a coin from Latvia, Finland or Slovenia makes its way into my pocket.

Seemingly this has boosted Coin collecting among the young. In a recent video, I made the point that “collectables” only become “collectable” when they stop being common-place. But I think there is an equally valid point that something new can create a collecting interest.

But it might well be a long shot to find a 2012 Latvian 50 cents coin in change in Dublin. Or a 2016 Finnish 1 cent coin in Cork. Or a 2018 Slovene 10 cents coin in Waterford. But Dealers can supply the coins. At a price.

I think this produces a de facto exchange rate within the limited world of Numismatics. In McDonalds or Starbucks, a Vatican euro has parity with an Irish euro. But not in the mind of a keen coin collector.

5…precious metals such as Gold and Silver. Bought and sold yesterday but it is not really Numismatics.

6…”Gun Money”. This is Irish coinage made from gun metal or bells etc and were minted between 1689 and 1691 by the Jacobite forces in Ireland. They were designed to be redeemed by soldiers for silver coinage in the event of “King” James II winning the war with “King” William. They often show a month of issue as a form of interest based on how long the soldier served. As I have a lifelong interest in this period of history, I really need to have an example.

7…USA Coins. On one level, I am happy that I only have three State Quarters to find. But the plethora of USA issues means I am not tempted to take any meaningful interest in other coins.

My overall impression is that too much interest in Irish or other coins means a distraction from the main business in hand…Stamps. And really this was a first step. Still a lot to learn.

 

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Irish Coins

With the upcoming Dublin Coin Show in mind, this video is about Irish Coins from 1928-2002.

I am enjoying making these videos. In part it is like creating a Video Archive and I have now covered Stamps and Coins. I will move on to other interests such as Postcards and Phonecards.

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