Tourism is one of the major revenue sources for Ireland. Why is a topic for economists and anthropologists of interest to stamp collectors? Money !! It also comes from why are there people of Irish descent in almost every country of the civilized (or not so civilized) world? People started leaving Ireland in great numbers starting with Cromwell. Preservation of one’s life and family is a good reason. This really ballooned with the Famine. (Figure 1) Over a quarter of the survivors left for better places. Economics also played a part since no job means no food, so back to survival. In most cases, the people left, not necessarily by choice, but under duress. They left family, friends, and familiar places.
People tend to reflect on their past. Time has a softening effect. Returning to a place brings fond memories. Tourism on stamps has been a major topic, starting with the An Tostal campaign (1953) up to today.(figure 2). Stamps that show beautiful scenes of the country trigger memories. Many people see a scene which invokes Grandpa’s tales of the “old sod”. (Figure 3).
On the cultural side, the Treasures of Ireland definitive set (1990-1995) showing ancient art creates interest. (Figure 4). Did my ancestors make that? How about religion? Ranging from pagan burial sites to beyond Patrick, Ireland has many religious sites , and enough saints to populate a good part of Heaven.(Figure 5). Music evokes emotions. Do you tap your foot in time with a jig, (Figure 6) or is U2 (Figure 7) more your style? Castles have a romantic aura, even though they were about war and death. . (Figure 8) Ireland has all sorts of interesting things that result in travel.
Ireland has many scenic places. Appearing on a stamp, the are “teasers” to attract interest. How about sporting events? Golf is a powerful attractant. (Figure 9). Even a third-generation American feels some pride when an Irish team wins in the Olympics.
Overall, stamp subjects are an important adjunct to a good tourist campaign. They serve to subtly attract interest. The little pieces of paper are powerful ambassadors, and can make a powerful thematic exhibit. See Brian Warren’s series “This is the Year That Was” in The Revealer that summarizes the new issues of each year.