PICTURE: IT Carlow lecturer gives her stamp of approval to new An Post collection

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Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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An IT Carlow lecturer was one of a three-person academic panel selected by An Post to advise on its special collection of stamps on the theme The Irish Abroad.

Dr Eleanor O'Leary, a lecturer in media and communications at IT Carlow, is an expert on emigration in the Irish context and the author of the book Youth and Popular Culture in 1950s Ireland (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Last year she was approached by An Post to consult on its new set of stamps launching on Thursday on the Irish diaspora, alongside Dr Angela Byrne from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Dr Brian Lambkin of the Migration Museum.

They were asked to advise on what  might best encapsulate the Irish abroad on a set of Irish stamps.

"I was contacted by An Post in April of last year to join a three-person panel and advise on what should be encapsulated on a new set of stamps to reflect the theme of the Irish diaspora.

"I thought the corner of a letter would be a good representation of the correspondence and connection to home by Irish emigrants.

"Similarly, the dance halls of London were a good reflection of how the Irish socialised abroad and formed their own social networks," said Dr O'Leary.

The resulting collection features three stamps depicting the themes of leaving Ireland, staying in touch, and networking with others who have also emigrated.

The first stamp shows a photo of a set of suitcases at Dublin Airport in 1969; the second features a detail from the painting Emigrants letter and envelope, 1988 by Geraldine O’Reilly, representing the communication with home and the importance of staying in touch.

Networking is represented on a third stamp with a photo of a gathering in The Galtymore Dancehall in Cricklewood, London, reflecting the importance of the Irish centres and hubs abroad.

Two further stamps feature portraits of the well-known Irish who lived abroad. Dame Kathleen Lonsdale (scientist), Richard Harris (actor) and Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (musician) feature on one stamp, while portraits of Edna O’Brien (author), Fr. Michael J Kelly (priest and aid worker) and Mary Elmes (humanitarian) feature on the second.

The Irish Abroad stamps are being issued by An Post on February 27.