Stamp firms defend Commonwealth listing


Listing Ireland as a European rather than a Commonwealth country in a major stamp catalogue would be "a philatelic solecism", an official at the Irish Embassy in London was told in 1975.

A member of the public, Pádraig Ó Mathúna, of Cashel, Co Tipperary, had pointed out Ireland was included in the Stanley Gibbons British Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue, philatelists by appointment to Queen Elizabeth.

The matter was referred to Kenneth Thompson, press and information secretary in the London Embassy, with a note: "You might pursue gently and diplomatically, perhaps by telephone in the first instance."

Reporting back, Mr Thompson said he had spoken by phone to directors of Stanley Gibbons Publications Ltd and Harris Publications (Stamp Collecting) Limited. They told him it has been "the custom to regard Ireland as philatelically part of the British Commonwealth, particularly as Ireland was a member of that organisation until 1949.

"In the opinion of the Stanley Gibbons director to include Ireland in the European volume would not only be a philatelic solecism but would result in a sharp depression of the Irish stamp market. Both gentlemen assured me that the inclusion of Ireland in the British Commonwealth was in no way intended as a slight on our sovereignty."