Monday 23 October 2017

'We are the souls of our towns and we'll keep fighting'

Husband and wife Brian Sheppard and Mary Higgins
Husband and wife Brian Sheppard and Mary Higgins

Husband and wife Brian Sheppard and Mary Higgins have invested their lives as the postmaster and postmistress of Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, and Ferbane in Co Offaly.

The post office business is in their families as Brian and Mary's parents had both run the branches before they took over.

The couple, who live in Cloughjordan, have dedicated a great deal of their working lives to their communities.

Mary said that rural post offices are not needed just for economic purposes but also act as a social outlet.

"We are talking about not only losing post offices but creating isolation in rural communities like ours," Mary said.

"My pensioners are devastated, they keep asking are we on the list and we just don't know.

"Customers don't only come in to use our variety of services, including post, collecting pensions, cash services, and social welfare, they socialise there too.

"Older people especially aren't necessarily able to travel 20 miles away to the nearest post office."

Brian said that people in the community are concerned that it will not stop at closing post offices and other important businesses will also close. Brian added: "I am based in a rural farming community and if they take the post office, next it will be the chemist then the supermarket and then there will be nothing left.

"This will lead to the decimation of rural communities.

"Enda Kenny thinks that everything needs to be about e-commerce but everyone still needs cash. Move our cash service to the banks only and people will only be charged more for taking their money out." Mary said: "We are the souls of our towns and we will keep fighting."

Irish Independent

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