German philately group publishes new book on Derry Christmas postal service set up by late republican stalwart Barney McFadden

A new book on the republican Christmas postal service in Derry has been published by the German Research and Study Group on Irish Postal History and Philately (FAI).

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 10:46 am
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhe McKnight and Sandra Duffy launching one of the last ever editions of the Christmas postal service.

The service which was set up by the late Derry republican Barney McFadden in 1975 as an alternative to the British system was eventually discontinued just over a year ago.

But now a new FAI-publication has been issued with the title, ‘Sinn Féin Christmas Postal Service in Derry and Other Parts of Northern Ireland 1975/76-2018/19.’

The tome was written by the FAI-President Heinz-Jürgen Kumpf, a German philatelist and expert on Irish stamps and postal history who is based in Munich.

The late republican Barney McFadden who launched the service in 1975.

Mr. Kumpf visited Derry during the life-time of the service and has thus been able to produce what is billed as a comprehensive publication which has been issued as a handbook and catalogue.

He stated: “It describes the private Christmas Postal Service operated by the Irish Republican Party Sinn Féin. It has started with the issue of labels (private stamps) in Derry before Christmas 1975.

“This ‘Sinn Féin Christmas Postal Service’ (SFCPS) stayed active until 2018/19. After almost 50 years of operation a special chapter in the Irish postal and political history has finally come to an end. It forms now a completed collection area.

“My special thanks go Sinn Féin activist Martha McClelland for her precise descriptions of the SFCPS and last but not least to former Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan, for his active and dedicated advice, help and support until to date.”

The book is divided into two parts and consists of seventy-two pages with 260 illustrations, printed in paperback.

The first section features Sinn Féin Christmas labels with an attachment showing Christmas Cards issued by Sinn Féin and other close political organisations. The second part focuses on cachets and postmarks used during the SFCPS era and was compiled following a selected correspondence with Sinn Féin in the early years regarding SFCPS which is included in an Appendix.

At the end there is a complete listing of the SFCPS labels in Part 1 and the SFCPS cachets in Part 2 .

The FAI state: “This publication is not only a simple listing of labels with printing and operational data. It also includes images of cachets on blank covers and cancellations of SFCPS labels or similar correspondence in the various Northern Irish locations. It also describes the historical background and purpose of the issue of those labels in the respective year.

“Complete sheets, covers, flyers, information sheets which were displayed in local public places with the announcement of new labels, posters with similar motives and related photos etc. round up the advertisements connected with the yearly SFCPS.

“This book is a ‘Must Have’ for anyone who has interest in the Irish Postal History and/or in the field of political and propaganda labels/stamps and in Private or Courier Mail in general.”

The new book features on its cover an image of Barney McFadden, a seminal figure in the republican movement in Derry who passed away at the age of 80 twenty years ago this coming Christmas Eve.

Speaking in Christmas 2019 prior to the service being wound down, Tony Hassan recalled: “Barney came up with this idea and suggested why not put a stamp out and make a few bob for the Prisoners’ Dependants Fund [the PDF, which raised money for Republican prisoners and their families].

“It was a novelty at the time having an alternative to the British post office, and it went quite smoothly. It was well received and there were plenty of members to deliver it.”

The Forschungs- und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Irland (FAI) e.V. im Bund Deutscher Philatelisten e.V. was founded in 1982 in Munich, Germany by enthusiastic collectors around Irish philately under the name Study and Research Group on Irish Philately.

The new book retails for 19,50 € excluding postage and packaging (weight ca. 280 g).

Postage and packaging is depending on final weight and country of destination.

It can be ordered from the FAI-Librarian: Wolfgang Fiedler, Am Mesterwinkel 12, 30952 Ronnenberg, Germany

Tel. No. +49 178 8678997, E-Mail: [email protected]