Ireland's €38m solution to my mum finding my house

Ireland's €38m solution to my mum finding my house

My favourite fact about Ireland is that it doesn't have any post codes.

I like that trivia because it suits my imagination that the country is twee and consists only of little cottages where everybody knows all their neighbours' names.

My Irish address has only two lines. If I'm posting something to my English address, I have to use six lines. Six! Most Irish websites can't comprehend such a thing.

Of course, this isn't actually true. Since 2015, Ireland has been covered by a national post code system called Eircode. It cost €38m and is an extremely elaborate system that uses the same structure and logic as Britain's post codes, but with a wise addition that ensures it doesn't duplicate any of the existing codes.

I can't work out whether people in Ireland have survived so long without Eircode that they forget it's there, or that they refuse to acknowledge it exists. An Irishman is more likely to find Donald Trump's tax number than their own Eircode.

As somebody who's mind loves order, this makes no sense to me. Why wouldn't you want a post code? They're brilliant. Introduced in 1959 to make directing letters easier, the post codes have proven to be the perfect size and format for the modern age: sat navs, insurance companies, deliveries and statisticians love the fact you can reduce the UK to a couple of square miles with just four digits.

The real reason post codes work in the UK is much more political. People can (and will) have long arguments about where their town boundaries are. They want the boundary to put them in the nicer town. With post codes, there is no confusion, as the Post Office invented the numbers so they get the final say: either you accept you live in KT11 or you don't receive any post.

As I'm not currently embroiled in any political rows but am living a faux-quaint fantasy, I have taken inspiration from my neighbours and refused to learn my Eircode. I feel liberated from the shackles of being shoehorned into an identity labelled by those four digits.

This causes a problem for my mum, who has to contend with me describing how my house falls in between two towns.

At this point I had to search through all my drawers and the pile where I keep the bills I'm trying to ignore to find the letter with my Eircode on it. Her sat nav is exactly the problem Eircodes were designed to solve.

You will read of proud Irish people who believe €38m is a lot of money to spend on an unnecessary post code system. Well it's not because it's exactly what her sat nav needed, and therefore is money well spent.

Except her sat nav was built in 2014 and has no idea what an Eircode is.

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I love music, media, exploring, old TV shows, heavy machinery, lists.

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I present radio, I write, I'll be whoever you want to be. I'm not wearing that.

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© 2019 Johnathan Randall.