An Post gets the message, gives Myles a stamp

Wed, Oct 5, 2011, 01:00

THE GHOST of Myles na gCopaleen may have been nodding his approval in a Dublin cafe yesterday when An Post unveiled a stamp to commemorate his creator’s anniversary.

It was, as actor Val O’Donnell reminded the gathering in Bewley’s, 52 years since Myles had excoriated the postal authorities for not including the relevant dates on a stamp marking the bicentenary of another Irish institution: Guinness’s Brewery.

“Just one more example of the shocking incompetence of the Post Office branch in charge of stamp design and production,” he huffed at the time. And the lesson was well learned, obviously.

In its centenary tribute to the writer Brian O’Nolan, An Post has included not just the dates of his birth and death and the current year. It also managed to squeeze in his real name and his two best-known pseudonyms: Na gCopaleen and Flann O’Brien.

No small achievement on a 55c stamp.

There is still room for his portrait, happily and here Myles himself might have some explaining to do. In the course of the 1959 diatribe, he decried the low aesthetic standards of Irish philately and, calling for a better class of artist to be hired, suggested future stamps might also capture more realistic scenes from Irish life, such as “a Feena Fayl big shot fixing a job for a relative”.

He could have no complaints about the standard of artist involved in An Post’s latest commission.

The man who got the job was his own brother, Michéal Ó Nualláin.