Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Merry visit of the GPO in Dublin

Until mid-April, you can watch the episodes of a documentary about the daily life of the Dublin Greater Post Office, its current employees, clients and operations on RTÉ, the public television of Ireland.
Logotype of RTÉ.
The branch is located in the rebuilt GPO, partly destroyed during the Easter Rising, during which the building housed the independentists' headquarters. Nowadays, the façade and the underground levels dated from the original construction between 1814 and January 1818.

During Tuesday 15th March episode, the GPO employees are presented from the counters to the nightshifters, including the helpful calling center. Costarring some colorful clients.

With Tuesday 22th episode, the documentary took surprising roads following the artistic events that take place in the hall of the post office during open door nights with concerts and the opportunity for visitors to post a special postcard. The clients and their happy life or their difficulties brought the first episode into perspective: homeless people getting shelter under the façade, a mother sending a bag of clothes to her migrant daughter unable to go further than France. Hopefully, a meeting of Postcrossers introduced the inventivity of An Post and its communication service.

The third episode, broadcasted Tuesday 29th March, Christmas and the Centenary both approaching, illustrated the importance for the Irish society of the GPO building: it's the rally point for demonstration in the capitale, a place for an association to offer hot meals and warm clothes to homeless people, and for refugee father to have a bank and begins saving money for the future of his children. Behind the counter, while Baby Jesus is difficult to find among the Christmas decoration put in storage last year, an employee tries to catch a pigeon... Finally, the construction site of the new centenary attraction, Witness History, are completed enough for six female dancers to prepare their interpretation of the Eastern Rising.

Christmas is approching in the fourth episode launched Tuesday 12th April. Aerial dancing show on the columns outside, music and singing in the hall, and carolling for charity under the portico, while specially prepared letters and parcels are being franked with the Christmas illustrated machine stamps at the counters. In the back office, Santa's secretaries are working to ensure all children will get their answers before the great day. And after a rare theft in the hall and the desperate very final client at closing time, Santa visited the GPO!

A lot of works are going on in the building in the fifth episode on Tuesday 19th April: the continuous renovation of the historic part of the place, the crane pilot who had got the best view on Dublin for eight months, and the mysrery of the "little house on top of the Post Office". Inside, the sixteen stamps of the Centenary issue are prepared by meeting the descendants of the stamped people, especially when they can provide pictures that Zinc Design put in form (example of the Malone brothers: the first killed in the Army at Ypres in 1915 ; the other while fighting the British Army in Dublin the next year). Finally, the Tanzanian mother, filmed in an earlier episode, comes again to post a laptop to her daughter, trapped in Paris by immigration laws.

In the last episode, on Tuesday 26th April, the  GPO Witness History is finally opened after two years of building. The final artworks, especialy the sculpture to the children killed during the rising, are placed and an original poster of the 1916 Easter Proclamation is hung there. Outside, groups of pupils and of tourists discovered the history of the place with their teachers or their guides. With a debate: are the holes in the columns really bullet holes?

This documentary series is part of RTÉ's programming for the centenary of the Irish insurrection.

The GPO building is also Ireland's public operator An Post's headquarters, and its postal museum and archive.

No comments: