Censorship – Irish Treatment of Inbound Mail [135]


All mail addressed to Eire was routed to the Dublin Censorship Office after review by the Imperial Censors. Mail for Northern Ireland was shipped to Belfast for delivery though normal Royal Mail channels.

When cleared by British censors, the mail normally had a resealing label (PC Form 90) on one end. It may also have other censor seals or markings depending on source and route. The Irish had four options:

1. Open the mail, examine it, reseal with a pink SP1 if found innocuous, and release for delivery. (Figure 1)

2. Release the mail for delivery after being stamped “Sorta An Scruidor / Released by Censor”. This was often done on servicemen’s mail previously censored by British Military. (Figure 2 Royal Air Force) (Figure 3 – Royal Navy) Figure 4 (Royal Army)

3. Certain mail was exempt from censorship. Diplomatic mail passing through the postal system was not interfered with by the Irish. Couriered mail was clearly exempted by international agreements. Mail to and from the clergy was also exempted, even though it may originate in Axis-held territory. This mail was stamped ” Saor O Scrúod / Exempt from Censorship” (Figure 5). The example shown is from a Jesuit missionary in China to his superior in Ireland. The exemption is in the rectangular purple stamp in the center of the cover.

4. Seize or detain a letter if it contained material objectionable to Irish neutrality.

The color of ink used on the the rubber stamps changed over time. Colors noted are listed below:. .

      Yellowish green February 1942 – June 1942 (Figure 4)

      Blue-green June 1942 – June 1943

      Pale purple violet March 1942 – May 1943 (Figure 5)

      Black March 1942 – May 1945

     Brick red to reddish brown July 1943 – December 1944 (Figure 2)

     Carmine, brownish carmine January 1945 – April 1945


“The Irish SP1 Censor Labels 1939-1945”, Verge, C.J.G., The Revealer,

“Irish Censorship Cancels During World War II”, Hellwig, O., The Revealer, Spring 1990.

“Censorship on Irish Mail in World War II”, Wittreich, P, Postal History Journal, No. 83, June 1990.