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While there has been a postal service available in Newry from as far back as 1564, Newry only became a Post Town in 1784, the year the Irish Post Office separated from the English Post Office. Sometime after 1761, the Post Office was relocated from Market Street to Marcus Square where it remained until 1819. The Postmaster was a coach proprietor named Thomas Green. Aside from delivering letters, the mail coaches doubled as a form of transport for those looking to travel to Dublin and Belfast. Coaches ran daily and, by the 1820s, travel time had been reduced to fourteen hours. The Royal Mail Coach provided a Day-Mail and Night-Mail service to both destinations, departing from its office which was listed at Hill Street from the 1830s.

Newry Post Office pictured in the early years of the 20th century. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Newry Post Office pictured in the early years of the 20th century. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

1840 saw the introduction of the Penny Post with registered post following the year after. This change in the postal system meant that letter carriers no longer had to wait for payment from the recipient of the letter. This in turn brought about the concept of letter boxes being installed in homes by the 1850s. Around this time Newry received two pillar boxes to ease letter collecting. Cylindrical pillar boxes would be introduced in 1879. 

The condition of the old Post Office, situated opposite the Cathedral, compelled the postal workers and residents to request the building be renovated. It could no longer handle the large amount of people and post that were coming through their doors and the basement was prone to flooding. In 1892, the Newry Chamber of Commerce and the Town Commissioners started a campaign to force the Post Office authorities to renovate the building, citing the fact that Newry is the central Post Office for one of the largest districts in the north of Ireland. In 1898, the Chamber of Commerce sent a delegation to London to not only request that the building be improved but that it would be built using Newry granite. After an inspection, the Government decided to erect a new building several doors down from where the old building was situated. 

A Victorian post box which was originally mounted in a wall in Drumbanagher, near Newry. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
A Victorian post box which was originally mounted in a wall in Drumbanagher, near Newry. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The land was purchased for £1800 and Mr. Cochrane was hired as the architect. The decision to use Newry granite so that it would match the stonework of the cathedral caused a delay in the opening of the Post Office. As a result, the ceremony on Wednesday 22nd February for laying the foundation stone was altered so that then Council chairman, Dr. M.J. McCartan, JP, buried a time capsule containing a copy of the Newry Reporter, coins and local records. Officially opening on 5th March 1900, the three-storey building was built at a cost of £5,700. It operated from 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday. 

Brass Inspector Scales which were used in Newry Post Office in Hill Street. These date from c.1900. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Brass Inspector Scales which were used in Newry Post Office in Hill Street. These date from c.1900. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Original architectural plans of Newry Post Office which are in Newry and Mourne Museum. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Original architectural plans of Newry Post Office which are in Newry and Mourne Museum. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The granite front was removed in 1962 as a part of a modernisation programme although Newry granite was used in the renovations. The new building was officially opened on 12th June 1963 at a cost of £62,000.  The Post Office suffered extensive damage in the 1970s during the Troubles with the building suffering several robberies and bomb attacks including near destruction from a bomb on 1st March 1976.

In June 1993, the sorting office was separated from the Post Office and was relocated to new premises on Clanrye Avenue in Newry. The original Post Office building was closed in 2000 and the Post Office now operates from the Super Valu store in Hill Street.

Newry and Mourne Museum is temporarily closed.

by Joanne Glymond

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