X-PO: Mattie Rynne Archive


The first event produced on opening X-PO was an installation of photographs, texts, material objects, cassette tapes, newspaper cuttings, flyers and paraphernalia left in the building when the postmaster, John Martin ‘Mattie’ Rynne, died in 2000. Deirdre  made a temporary archive of Mattie’s books and a portrait wall drawing from soot taken from the kitchen stove.

Mattie spent all his life keeping the post-office in Kilnaboy and rarely left the area. However, the collection revealed an extraordinarily rich, private life fueled by reading, listening and continuous intellectual enquiry; long before the internet Mattie Rynne used his short-wave radio to escape the narrow ground of place. Amongst his belongings were manuals and tape-recordings of BBC world-service language programmes. He taught himself five languages and the books, journals, copybooks and correspondence courses ranged in subject from Advanced English to electronics – a testament to his intellectual curiosity and indicative of a rich, private life that was known to only a few.

The archival installation demonstrated how objects and images make visible hidden or overlooked stories and re-frame narratives from alternative perspectives and helped to engage interested participants, leading to further archives by the Rinnamona Research Group, Peter Rees and the Killinaboy Mapping Group and the future direction for further collaborative exchanges.