Stamps to celebrate library philanthropist

A new stamp set from An Post celebrates the rich Irish dividend from the classic ‘rags to riches’ story of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

 An Post launched four stamps to mark the centenary of the death of Andrew Carnegie whose generosity changed the face of Ireland through his endowment of grants to build more than eighty libraries across the country. The launch took place in Dublin’s Pearse Street library, a ‘Carnegie’ building and one of sixty-two still in use today.

The four stamps, designed by Vermillion Design, feature line drawings of four Irish Carnegie Libraries by Irish artist Dorothy Smith and photographed by Gillian Buckley. The featured buildings included libraries in Kilkenny, Clondalkin, Enniskerry, County Wicklow and Athea, County Limerick. The stamps and a beautiful First Day Cover envelope are available from main post offices, from the stamp counters at Dublin’s GPO or online at

Present at Wednesday’s launch were Brendan Teeling, Dublin’s Deputy City Librarian and Brendan Grimes author of ‘Irish Carnegie Libraries, An Architectural History’. The illustrations and stamps will now go on display at Pearse St library.

Ireland owes a particular debt of gratitude to Carnegie who offered library grants between 1897 and 1913. Born in Scotland, Carnegie emigrated with his family to the US in search of a better life. At 12 he began working in the cotton industry and through his natural ability and application became one of the world’s richest men. In the last decades of his life he devoted himself to philanthropy and his contribution to Ireland were the libraries now celebrated in the new stamp set.

Felix Larkin, chair of An Post’s Philatelic Advisory Committee, quoted Carnegie’s own words “surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community”. Mr Larkin said the centenary of Carnegie’s death presented the opportunity to celebrate the libraries which he (Carnegie) gave to Ireland. 

Mr. Larkin described the stamps as ‘’…..beautiful objects that we see on our envelopes every day and which stamp-collectors all over the world greatly admire’’.