The past is another country

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Sackville Street PostcardWhen I was at home last weekend, my father updated me on his ongoing project to scan the collection of postcards originally sent among my grandfather’s relatives at the turn of the twentieth century, and attentively collected, preserved and added to (there are some intriguing Irish Shipping Ltd postcards from the 1950s) by my grandmother. Having spent a few hours reading and looking through a small part of the collection, I thought that some of them were too good not to share. Jumping on the bandwagon of Dave O’Sullivan’s hard work, the ones I have posted here represent a small sample of a reasonably large collection of postcards that deal mainly with Irish subjects but also include images of Devonshire, Lourdes, New York, Alabama, and Paris, and several sent by a missionary relative from a boat headed for Manila in the Philippines. These postcards of Dublin and its environs were all sent between 1907 and 1911.


Bray Postcard

Balscadden Bay, Howth:

Howth Postcard


Kingstown 1 Postcard

Christ Church Cathedral:

Christ Church Postcard

St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

St Patrick's Cathedral Postcard

College Green:

College Green 2 Postcard

Dublin Castle:

Dublin Castle Postcard

The Shelbourne Hotel, St. Stephen’s Green:

Shelbourne Hotel Postcard

National Library:

NLI Postcard

Irish International Exhibition, 1907:

International Exhibition Postcard

Powerscourt House:

Powerscourt Postcard

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8 Responses to “The past is another country”

  1. puesoccurrences Says:

    These are great Kevin. I am curious to see whats written on the other side! Thanks for sharing them and please keep us updated on any other postcard you find interesting.


  2. puesoccurrences Says:

    Some of the text on the postcards is really interesting, some of them are completely banal (‘I’ll meet you at x’, ‘Just arrived at y’ or ‘How is auntie z?’), some of them are intriguing (people and names that are half-remembered now), and all of them, as my Dad commented, read like short emails or texts – limited by the space available to write and the nature of the medium to short updates and fragments of conversations and stories.

    I have a few more scanned from outside Dublin that I’ll post next week, and the next time I get a chance I’ll have a look for a few more interesting cards. There are hundreds of them.


  3. Ciara Says:

    Kevin, these are fantastic! I wonder how many people have similar postcards in their attics? I recently came across one at home of Patrick Pease’s execution at Kilmainham (an odd subject for a postcard!)

  4. Niamh Says:

    HI Kevin, these are really wonderful images. I love old postcards though – as much for the messages on the back as for the images too. I came across a load of old Italian postcards when i was going through 1920 editorial correspondence formy PhD and they really did use them as we’d use phone calls/textx nowadays. Maybe we should go back to postcards – so much impressive for posterity than text messages!

  5. puesoccurrences Says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Thought you might be interested in this. I was in the Dublin City Library and Archive last week and they have a poster up advertising postcards and engravings they hold:
    There are 75 in total. Just in case anyone is interested they have been added to Flickr:
    They reminded me of your own. Has your family deposited them yet?


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