Thursday 14 December 2017

'An Post don't know value of community'

Ventry postmaster Seamus Ó Luing with customer Maire Ui Chiobhain in Ceann Trá post office. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Ventry postmaster Seamus Ó Luing with customer Maire Ui Chiobhain in Ceann Trá post office. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

It's school pickup time in Ventry, Co Kerry, and the post office just across the road is a hub of activity.

This is one of its busiest times during the day, when people call in to do their business or collect some last-minute groceries for the evening ahead.

Postmaster Seamus Ó Luing is the third generation of his family to run the post office, one of only two left west of Dingle in Co Kerry. He doesn't want to be the last.

Ballyferriter and Dún Chaoin post offices have been lost but Ventry and Ballydavid are still serving the rural population of Ireland's most westerly point.

"An Post knows the value of stamps but they don't seem to know the value of community," Mr Ó Luing said.

"You can't put a price on community and, ultimately, that's what this really is about. The post office is more than just an outlet for transactions.

"It's a social hub and part of the glue that keeps the rural economy together and communities together. If you remove the post office from that it really is the death knell of the community.

"A lot of postmasters are earning below the minimum wage so they almost have a vocational duty to their communities."

Mr Ó Luing said An Post hasn't come out with a clear plan to identify which offices will be closed or how many.

Maurice Sheehy moved back to Ventry after spending 30 years in the UK. He fears for rural Ireland if large numbers of post offices are to shut.

"I have my pension paid here and I do my banking but I should be able to do a lot more like my car tax and driving licence," Mr Sheehy said.

Irish Independent

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