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O’Connell STAMPS His Mark

O’Connell STAMPS His Mark

To mark the release of two special stamps featuring Paul O’Connell we have dug deep into the archives to take a look at the history of Irish players and Rugby stamps.

An Post have recently issued two very special commemorative stamps featuring Ireland’s Paul O’Connell.

The first stamp is a close up of Paul, while the second is the iconic image of Paul soaring in the air to claim a lineout during Ireland’s historic match against England in Corke Park earlier this year.

The stamps and special commemorative packs are available from www.irishstamps.ie

To mark this release we asked IRFU Archivist Willow Murray to delve into the archives and tell us a bit about previous Irish Rugby Internationals who have appeared on stamps.

First Irish Players on a Stamp

The first Irish internationals to appear on postal stamps were Barry McGann, Colin Grimshaw and Donal Canniffe. On September 2nd 1974 The Irish Post Office issued a set of two stamps commemorating the Centenary of the IRFU.

Centenary Stamp

The two stamps were based on an Irish Press picture taken by photographer Austin Finn during a “Combined Universities” XV against a “Rest of Ireland” XV.

Barry McGann won 25 caps between 1969 & 1976. Colin Grimshaw played as a replacement for Roger Young against England in 1969.

He created a bit of history that day in that it was the first time that two Irish players from the same Club and Province and playing in the same position played in the same game.

Donal Canniffe won 2 caps in 1976 and was the Munster captain the day they beat the All Blacks in 1978.

Ernie Crawford

The next Irish international was the late Ernie Crawford. He was depicted on one of a set of 5 rugby stamps issued by The Tongan Postal Authority on August 2nd 1989.

The issue was to commemorate the National Sports stadium inauguration and the South Pacific mini games that month.

Ernie Crawford won 30 caps between 1920 and 1927 and captained the Irish team on 15 occasions during that time. He also served as IRFU President in the  1957 – 1958 season.


1995 Rugby World Cup

Three Irish players can be identified in the An Post 1995 Rugby World Cup set issued on April 6th 1995.

1995 Stamp

The two stamps were based on Irish, English and Australian players.

The 52p stamp was based on a photograph taken during the Ireland V Australia game in 1992.

Brian Robinson and John (Spud) Murphy, the Greystones Hooker, are clearly identifiable on this stamp.


1995 Stamp 2

Denis McBride would appear to be the principle Irish player featured on the 32p stamp.

John N.Murphy played his only game against Australia in 1992.

Brian Robinson won 25 Caps between 1991 and1994 and Denis McBride won 33 caps between 1988 & 1997


The Rugby Heartlands of Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan

The Eight & Ninth Irish players to appear on postal stamps were Phillip Matthews & Steve Smith.

They are depicted on two stamps in a set of nine issued by Tadjikistan for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.


Tadjikistan 2









Philip is seen tackling Michael Lynagh on a stamp based on a photo taken during an Australian v Ireland game.

Steve appears in a Lions front row based on a photograph taken during the 1989 tour to Australia. Philip Matthews won 37 caps between 1988 & 1992 and captained the Irish on 17 occasions. Steve Smith won 25 Irish caps between 1988 & 1993. He also toured with the 1989 Lions to Australia.

TurkmenistanPhilip Matthews appears for the second time, on one of the nine rugby stamps issued by The Republic of Turkmenistan during 2000.

The stamp is base on a photograph taken during the Irish v Australian World cup game in 1991.

 Neil Francis is also clearly visible is  along with an unidentified Irish player tackling Peter Slattery ( if you can shed light on the identity of the tackler please contact manager@irishrugby.ie )

Neil Francis won 36 caps between 1987 and 1996.


Angel of Mercy

The most recent player, prior to Paul O’Connell, to appear on a stamp was capped long before any of the aforementioned.

Tom Crean

Dr. Tom Crean VC, DSO – who featured in our first “From The Archives” piece – was commemorated on a stamp to mark the medical heroes of the Boer War entitled “Angels of Mercy”. The stamps were issued in August 2001.

Dr Tommy Crean won 9 Irish caps (1894 – ’96), was on the Irish second Triple Crown winning teams of 1896 and toured South Africa with the 1896 Lions, playing in all 4 tests.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Boer War and the DSO during World War 1.

2007: Paul O’Connell

Bringing the story right up to date An Post have now issued two stamps featuring Ireland’s talismanic second row Paul O’Connell.

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The iconic image of Paul soaring for a line out ball in the game against England in Croke Park this year also features his Munster and Ireland team mates John Hayes and Donncha O’Callaghan as they help him to scale the heights.

The second stamp is a close up of Paul on the charge – an iconic sight in Irish rugby at any time and wonderfully captured here for rugby fans and stamp collectors alike.

For more information on the Paul O’Connell stamps and special edition commemorative packs visit http://www.irishstamps.ie/


 The stories, facts and figues are accurate to the best of our knowledge but we are always looking to add to that store, so if you have a correction or information relating to one of the articles please contact manager@irishrugby.ie