Ireland has used its own postage stamps since 1922; before that, the stamps of the United Kingdom were used. In the years leading up to Ireland’s first true postage stamps, there were several unofficial, non-postal, propagandistic stamps issued by various groups pushing for Irish independence.
The first stamp used solely in Ireland were in fact British stamps with overprints; the first read ‘Rialtas Sealada? na hÉireann 1922’ in the stylized Gaelic typeface; this means “Provisional Government of Ireland 1922”. Several British stamps were issued with this overprint. (Note that in modern typography, the word “Sealada?” is rendered as “Sealadach”.) Another overprint was ‘Saorstát Éireann 1922’, meaning “Irish Free State 1922”.
The first original stamps with inscriptions for Ireland were also issued in 1922; the inscription was, simply, ÉIRE, using the Irish Gaelic name and rendered in the Gaelic typeface. From this point, Ireland would continue to issue its own postage stamps until the present day.
Until the 1950s, Ireland issued relatively few new stamp designs. In the 1950s and 1960s, the stamp program was gradually increased in frequency and volume, and special collectors’ pieces, such as souvenir sheets, began to see the light of day. The traditional Irish typeface would also be bypassed, with increasing frequency, in favor of more modern and conventional fonts. Although the subjects commemorated on Ireland stamps are often captioned in English, the name of the country is always rendered “Éire”.
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