Ireland’s history influenced its philately to a much greater degree than did the history of most other countries. Ireland was subjugated by the British around 1600 and passionately fought for its independence for over 300 years. The first Irish stamps were issued in 1922 after independence had finally been obtained from Britain. There are several aspects of Irish stamps and their collecting that are peculiar to that country and which should influence the popularity of Irish collecting in the years ahead.
 Philatelic history portends a good future for Irish stamps. As a new sovereign country (and in the realm of national histories, a hundred years of independence makes you still a new country), the Irish are very nationalistic and proud of their country and heritage. Feelings of this type often translate into making collecting the stamps of a country popular. In the 1960s, the young Irish stamp dealer, David Feldman, who later opened the Swiss auction house that has made him an international philatelic name, published a specialized book on Irish stamps and postal history. In one of the great crossovers into the mainstream in philatelic history, his book became a general best seller in Ireland, at the top of the Irish bestseller list for months. Imagine a stamp book on the New York Times bestseller list and the author making the rounds on the Today Show! The Irish see their stamps as part of what makes them Irish.
Two other factors make the Irish passionate collectors. First, the people are among the most educated in Europe, and despite some difficult economic times recently, they have a strong economy and growing incomes. And second, the Irish diaspora, especially in America, makes Irish stamps enjoy more than just a home market. Ireland shares these factors with Israel, Italy, and a few others.
As strong as Irish collecting has been, now would be a good time to consider collecting this country, if you don’t already do so. We are coming up on the centenary of Ireland’s independence. Given the wealth and education level of the Irish, there is a strong likelihood that centennial celebrations will stir philatelic interest. Given that the entire country can be bought mint for a couple thousand dollars, philatelic promotion companies may well put together the country complete in special albums that they will market intact. Even now, considering their scarcity, early Ireland seems to sell at lower prices than stamps of similar scarcity from other countries. Putting together a good Irish collection starting today should prove a pretty good bet for the future.
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