With regards to sending shamrocks to friends and relatives overseas, I suspect most Irish simply pulled a few shamrocks from their back garden and stuffed them into a personal letter or card and sent them on their way. However, a new addition to my stamp collection might suggest that things weren't quite so simple. Below is evidence that at least in the 1950's there was a special Shamrock envelope that involved Irish science.
This envelope, which measures 3½ inches by 3½ inches, appears to have been designed especially for the sending of shamrocks. At the bottom of the envelope it states "free from soil, earth & sand, roots removed."
This specific envelope was postmarked from "Mainistir Na Buille". Most likely purchased at a tourist shop at Boyle Castle. Inside the envelope was empty.
It was postmarked on the 6th of March in 1956 to arrive at its destination by St. Patrick's Day. Amazingly, it was sent from Mainistir Na Buille, Ireland all the way to Seremban, Malaysia. I suspect that the recipient Mr. Eddy Jesudasan was not an Irishman or of Irish heritage. From the surname, my speculation is that Mr. Jesudasan was a Malaysian of Indian subcontinent descent. A Christian, a follower ("dasan") of Jesus ("Jesu").
All fascinating facts, for a stamp collector, but the most interesting feature of this postal cover was on the reverse side. The envelope was created by "Dunmore East Packing Company" of County Waterford, Ireland and above this it stated "Patent Applied For".
What type of patent would be involved in the sending of a shamrock in an envelope?
I searched the Irish Patent Office website using all possibilities of "shamrock", "packing", "Dunmore East" but I had no luck whatsoever.
Fortunately searching the American newspaper archives for "Dunmore East" provided an important clue to solving the mystery of the Irish patent:
Science Comes To Aid Of Shamrock
Big Business Ideas Applied to Trade
By Derry Moran
United Press Staff Correspondent
DUNMORE EAST (Ireland) — When the wearers of the green swing through the cities of America this St. Patrick's Day, the shamrock nestling proudly in their lapels will be as fresh as if they'd just stooped and plucked it from an Irish meadow.
Scientific cultivation and packing, plus special freight flights across the Atlantic and the American continent, will have combined to give sons and daughters of the old country the freshest, straightest-from-the-auld-sod three-leaf shamrock that ever left the Emerald Isle.
Right now the Shamrocks are covering six rolling green acres round this quaint, old world County Waterford village on the south-east tip of Ireland, as carefully matured and coddled as prize orchids in an amateur gardener's hothouse.
There are no amateurs round here now, though. Shamrock is big business and a new industry. In Willie Lawler's pub nights, rugged-faced farmers who winters past talked of wheat, barley and spuds now confer over their pints of beer on the advisability of "turning the lower meadow over beyond to raising shamrock for the Yanks."
Gets Big Idea
The man behind the new industry is a resourceful Irish business man, William D Walsh, managing director of the newly established Dunmore East Packing Co.
Two years ago, hit by rising prices where it hurt most in his toy manufacturing business, Bill came to Dunmore for a holiday. In search of new outlets for a keen business mind, he was struck by the lushness of Dunmore's fields and meadows, especially the green shamrocks that blanketed the area.
Then a giant, four-engined trans-Atlantic plane droned overhead en route to Shannon and New York. The two things clicked — the shamrock at his feet and the air giant in the sky; fly shamrock to the States.
Long browsing through reference books and consultations with horticultural experts gave the right type of shamrock to grow. Then came the problem of packing. After wide research Bill and a team of experts hit on a special process which ensures that the leaf's natural freshness is retained. Add to the preserving process a special, Celtic-emblemed transparent plastic box that provides insulation and controls evaporation, and Bill was ready to get to grips with the American market.
A trip to the United States secured orders in the big cities and towns of the continent. Last year for the first time thousands of Irish exiles wore shamrock on St. Patrick's Day (March 17) almost in the same condition as it left the old country. This year it will be even better, with another year's research going into the job.
A few days before the holiday, scores of special workers will go out into the fields to begin the harvest. Colleens wading ankle deep through the lush pasture will fill bags with shamrocks, send them to the plant for treatment and packing, and then speed them on their way to Shannon by special convoy.
There the freight holds of giant sky transport will receive the cargo and speed it across the Atlantic to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, Chicago — and your lapel.
The Times Standard, Eureka, California, 12 March 1952
Absolutely fascinating, however, I felt that Mr. Walsh was still a bit coy in describing what science could have been involved in the packing of shamrocks that would allow an Irish patent. Fortunately, the entire process at Dunmore East has been documented in short films from the 1960's on the British Pathé youtube channel. From these short film clips can anyone please identify the process that an Irish patent had been applied for by the Dunmore East Company of County Waterford?