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An Post Irish national address database now available to the public

An Post, the Irish postal service has made its address database available to the public without charge for the first time. This means it is possible to verify a postal address without needing to contact the destination sorting office. It is the first time a postal directory has been available in Ireland for at least 15 years.

The purpose of making the database available appears to be to allow the public to check addresses before sending mail. An Post is to be applauded for providing this essential facility.

It’s a little awkward that you need to register to get a username and password for the service. It’s quite simple, and gives no extra information about the places listed (although this information is part of the geodirectory database on which it is based).

It is quite interesting to look through rural address listing. For example, Middle Illies in Co. Donegal is listed as ‘Middle Illies, Lifford, Co. Donegal’ even though it is nowhere near Lifford (although that must be where the mail is delivered from).

Dromahair, Co. Leitrim is listed as ‘Dromahair, Sligo, Co. Leitrim’. Sligo is town in a different country, but it obviously is where the mail come through.

As far as I can see from this, the directory is not so much an address database as a delivery database.

There are no Irish language entries that I can find.

In related news, there is a story in today’s Sunday Business Post about the postcode project. The story is that this project is turning out to be more complicated than expected. There are also dark rumours about the cost being in excess of EUR 50m. It shouldn’t really cost that much.

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  1. I signed up for it and the confirmation e-mail stated that the account was a trial one for 14 days. I think An Post is planning to turn this into a revenue stream.

  2. Yes, I got that too, but not when I was actually registering. I don’t know what sense that makes.

    I think An Post is dreaming if it thinks it is going to get people to pay for that service. I mean the database is good, but it’s just not useful enough and there’s no api.

  3. And four days after the launch, the site is down . . .

    Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:
    Request timed out.

  4. So, you can browse the database? It sounds like it’d be really useful if it was downloadable, too, like the ZIP code boundaries in the US.

    A clue to whom it’s aimed at, may come from the address the account-confirmation email comes from — “info at” . appears to be Precision Marketing Information, aka Kompass/PMI, a direct marketing company.

    An Post could probably make a few bob in the short term by flogging access to the database to direct marketers. In the long term, of course, open data brings its own benefits, allowing the creation of entire *industries* — but it remains to be seen if they’ll get their heads around that concept — doesn’t strike me as likely.

  5. Well, you can’t quite browse the database, but you can make very general searches.

    Kompass/PMI is an An Post subsidiary.

    This is a long way from being a direct mail list. It’s just addresses, no names, so it’s not any use for that.

    I suppose my thinking is that An Post have had a long time to think about the causal link between a publicly available address database and correctly addressed mail. I hope they have seen it by now.

  6. They do a new version every three months or so, I believe. Contact them and ask about adding an entry for your house.