An Post Great Irish Songs Stamp Collection

It’s a small world – The story of designing in miniature.

A Posted letter can be a treasured part of our memories. An old letter is unlike any email we receive today. It’s tactile and personal, carried in an envelope with a stamp on the front that reminds us of the art and culture of the country from where the letter was posted. Ireland’s national identity and culture is renowned through the country’s much-loved songs, 4 Great Songs.

An Post asked AMP Visual to design of set of stamps that celebrate four iconic and internationally recognised songs, performed by renowned Irish artistes. The ‘Great Irish Songs’ issue highlights the power of the stamp to tell a story. The songs featured are Danny Boy (John McCormack); On raglan road (Luke Kelly); With or Without You (u2) and Dreams (The Cranberries). 

We’ve not designed postage stamps before. They’re like little visual ambassadors for a nation on a very small canvas. 

And a small canvas it is indeed, with a working area of 32mm x 32mm (less than 1½ x 1½ inches), the project presented an interesting specific design challenge: how within such a small space do we make an effective communication and a vibrant message. 

We researched iconic portrait photos of each performer and applied the photography in a simple, vibrant graphic manner. We were interested from the outset in exploring strong colour specific to each stamp — so each stamp would have its own colour identity.

The stamps were issued May 9th 2019. Each stamp measures 36mm x 36mm (approx 1.5 x 1.5 inches) and comes in sheets of 16. The values and quantities are : N Raglan Road (94k) ; Dreams (150k). W Danny Boy (94k) ; With Or Without You (250k). Printed in full colour plus bright shiny gold foil text by Cartor Security Printing, France.


Philately – the collection and study of postage stamps. Over 20 million people collect stamps, some avidly and some casually. For the Great Irish Songs stamp issue, we designed a number of collectors items, including a First Day Cover envelope and a special Souvenir Pack. The Souvenir Pack allowed us to create something really cool to collect, a set of 7” replica vinyl singles presenting the stamps and all packaged up in a record sleeve. Look closely at the First Day Cover ’s unique cancellation postmark, it’s made up of rings of the song’s lyrics, it’s all in the little details.

Souvenir Pack : Replica 7″ singles with unique stamps
First Day Issue Cover Envelope


On the day of the stamp’s issue, An Post invited guests to the GPO in Dublin for a unique celebration of the new stamps, the artists and their songs, with performances by John Sheahan, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Glass House Strings Quartet, Declan O’Rourke, Wyvern Lingo, Jack O’Rourke, May Kay Geraghty and the Discovery Gospel Choir in association with Other Voices.

John Sheahan on fiddle playing in front of the ‘On Raglan Road’ stamp.
Photo: An Post/Maxwells
The Cranberries lead guitarist and co-writer of ‘Dreams’,
Noel Hogan with the ‘Dreams’ stamp. Photo: An Post/Maxwells


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