The History of Ireland in 100 objects becomes a stamp series

‘Irish Times’ series highlights breathtakingly beautiful objects, says author Fintan O’Toole

A History of Ireland in 100 Objects, the book written by Irish Times journalist Fintan O'Toole, has been turned into a definitive stamp series by An Post.

Twelve stamps will be released this year which will be followed over the next five years by stamps depicting a selection of objects from the oldest to the newest.

This is the ninth definitive stamp series launched by An Post. Definitive stamps remain on sale for a number of years and are based around a theme.

Each stamp contains a code that may be scanned with the smartphone CEE app which links to the website


The original 100 objects series ran in The Irish Times from February 2011 to January 2013. It was turned into a bestselling book of the same name which was launched by the late Seamus Heaney in February 2013.

The book was a collaboration between The Irish Times, the Royal Irish Academy and the National Museum of Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Irish Times chief executive Liam Kavanagh said A History of Ireland in 100 Objects was one of the longest-running series in The Irish Times and the book was in response to popular demand.

Niche book

It was initially thought to be a niche book, but quickly gained a general audience and there have been some 35,000 free downloads.

He praised O’Toole as somebody who “creates that sense of public debate. Ireland is a better place for his voice.”

The stamps begin with the flint mace head, which was found near Knowth, Co Meath, in 1982 and dates from about 3,000 BC.

The first stamps also include the Bronze Age funerary urns from between 1,900 and 1,300 BC, the Tara torcs from 1,200 BC and the Broighter Boat, a miniture golden sail boat dating from 100 BC.

O'Toole was not at the launch as he is a visiting lecturer in Princeton University. Via a video link he spoke of how at a young age he realised while visiting the National Museum with his father that the objects were "part of the patrimony of the nation".

He described many of them as breathtakingly beautiful and a source of wonder as to how they were made in the first place.

“This is part of the heritage of every Irish person but also part of world heritage. These objects matter in world heritage,” he said. “These are great works of art as fantastic as anything you will see in any of the world galleries.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times