The first stage of the life journey of a letter is often a trip to the letter box. The collection points are ubiquitous and, in the Republic are painted green - Bright Green. In the North, they are painted in the red of Royal Mail.
One exception to the green paint is a Victorian period box mounted on a wall in the Bunratty Folk Park at Bunratty Castle. (Figure 1) This coloring is correct since it appears in a recreated museum village of the 1890's.
As previously noted, Northern Ireland has had unique letter boxes in different colors and styles..
Most people don’t actually collect the boxes - most weigh several hundred pounds or more and they can be quite large. A photograph is usually sufficient.(Figure 2).
Mailboxes are more than just an empty tube with a place for collecting mail. Some were equipped with metal screens to allow snow inserted by juvenile hoodlums to pass through without damaging the mail. Others had devices to prevent fires should a incendiary device or a cigarette were inserted. Some boxes allowed for two bins - within city or outside. Most had a crest or initials of the monarch in power when the box was made (Note VR on top of box pictured). These crests or initials were normally removed after 1922.
Letterboxes in Northern Ireland are colored differently. (Figure 3)
The letter box can also be a symbol - in the examples below, artists have depicted LOVE as a heart-shaped letterbox since they are the means of conveying love to others. These were used as Ireland’s "Love" stamp in 1988 and 1986 respectively.(Figure 4)