Tag Archives: An Post

Letters to Ireland: Republic plans to modernize postal service

Every year I mail a Christmas card to a relation in Ireland who lives in the rural house where my grandfather was born in 1894. All that’s required for the address is the surname, the townland name, Lahardane, and County Kerry. No street name or number are required, because none exist.

That’s about to change.

The Republic is preparing to introduce postal codes in spring 2015. Each of the country’s more than 2.1 million residential and business addresses will be assigned a seven-digit mix of numbers and letter.

Some people worry the upgrade will erase a wee bit of Ireland’s small country charms. Others are happy to see the modernization. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ireland has tried, and failed, to deliver a postal-code system before. But costs—and, until recently, resistance by postal workers—have stymied efforts. The current system comes with a price tag of $32 million and, this time, the stamp of approval of the country’s postal service. …

An Post, Ireland’s postal service, argued for years that postal codes were too expensive and complicated. There were also fears that postal codes would make it easier for private courier services to swoop in, triggering layoffs of postal workers. Supporters quietly argued that codes actually might boost post-office traffic by making it easier to send junk mail.

There are other concerns, as The Irish Times reports:

Critics say the opportunity has been missed to use Ireland’s clean-slate status to produce a technologically innovative postcode system that would be at the cutting edge globally; similar to the competitive leap that was provided when the State switched to a digital phone network in the 1980s, well ahead of most of the world. …

Because each postcode will reveal the exact address of a home or business, privacy advocates are concerned that online use of postcodes could link many types of internet activity, including potentially sensitive online searches, to a specific household or business.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

The headquarters of Ireland’s mail service, the General Post Office in Dublin, was at the center of the 1916 Rising. It will be the focus of attention through April 2016 as the nation prepares to celebrate the centennial of the event. A museum on the site details “the little known story of the staff who were actually in the GPO on Easter Monday.”

I’ll look forward to sending a last Christmas card to Lahardane that doesn’t require a postal code. I know it will arrive safely.