Receiving Houses [202]


In the early 1800’s, Dublin was much smaller than today. Over time, it grew through annexation of villages, hamlets and small towns.  It also grew due to the influx of people from the countryside.  This was increased in periods of natural disasters affecting crops, such as the Great Famine of 1844-1848 and the clearance of tenant farmers from the estates in the west. The Dublin Penny Post delivered within a ten mile radius, and was established in 1773.  Unfortunately, it was little used at the time since there were only ten stations.

If you were to receive mail, there was no house delivery.  You went to the Post Office and picked it up. Likewise, sending a letter was equally inconvenient. The expansion of the city complicated this.  The Post Office could be a significant distance from where you lived and worked.
With growth, the pick-up and delivery of mail suffered.  To reduce the burden and speed up delivery, the “Penny Post” was expanded for services within Dublin.  This created pick-up points throughout the city, usually in existing businesses.  To participate, a business owner had to post a significant security bond to insure responsibility and security of letters posted, to collect and account for monies received, and provide services to the customer.  This was surprisingly well accepted since it brought additional traffic into the shop or inn, and the proprietor received a fee for processing the mail.

Over 60 Receiving House were established, and postmen picked up accumulated mail twice daily for delivery to the General Post Office for sorting, and subsequent delivery the next day. Each postman had a specified route of three to seven receiving Houses.  The mail was stamped with the name of the street on which the house was located.  Apparently the greatest problem lie in the addressing of the recipient, in particular of those buildings where there was temporary housing.  While a routeman most likely was knowledgeable of permanent residents, transit or temporary lodgers could present a problem.  These covers can be identified by the stamping of the street name on the front.  All cancels would be a “186″, most likely of the diamond design.

Sullivan, E., Postal History Journal, No. 69, February 1985. Pp.49-53.
Ferguson, S., The Post Office in Ireland, Irish Academic Press, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland, 2014.