Sunday 16 December 2018

No love letter for newly relocated post office

'What could be more pivotal to a country town than its post office?'
'What could be more pivotal to a country town than its post office?'

Fiona O'Connell

A fresh start is a fine thing. But January is no excuse to nudge out the old - especially if it is the long established core of a community.

And what could be more pivotal to a country town than its post office?

Yet the powers that be apparently consider it progress to push the pulse of this community from its central location into a sideshow in a supermarket on the outskirts of town.

No wonder people looked disorientated when I discovered the lamentable new location. Some feeling the profession of postmaster/postmistress has been stripped of its independent status and identity - like a friend whose straitened circumstances force them to kip on your couch.

And for whose benefit? Surely not locals, who used to cheerfully collide with each other at the post office. For the walk there took you though the heart of this town, passing the butchers (a glance to see if John is wearing his hat today) and Hennessey's B&B next to the eco clothes shop.

Or you might make your way along the opposite side of the road, passing Ted Murphy's and the Indian restaurant, Clay Creations and Vincent's Charity Shop, with its window display always worth a look. Then crossing at O'Hara's on the corner, with its fine Victorian facade and green sash window frames.

You would meet the world and his wife en route to its long-established residence on the quay, for you were likely to pop in and out of these places along the way.

Along with Sim's Hardware or Harmony Health Food Store, The Truffle Fairy chocolate shop; Kissanes across from Healy's Pharmacy, next door to The Salon, with its real fire.

Or you would wander into Woods beside A-Men barbers, or one of this town's many excellent cafes.

All have succeeded in staying open through the downturns and uproars of the economy. And if I owned one of them, I would be livid with the anonymous authority that seems so detached from the harsh reality of rural Ireland that they have jeopardised their livelihoods by taking away the passing trade that came with the post office.

For any savings are surely at the expense of those independent shopkeepers. Because how many people using the partitioned post office are likely to nip into the supermarket while they're at it?

This is not about sentiment. Or (God forbid!) catering for senior citizens for whom going to the post office was not just about collecting their pension but constituted a social outing. For the new premises presents us with a different kind of uphill walk.

The spirit and sparkle of this country town will also suffer - though that won't show up on any kind of spreadsheet.

Anyway, why shove an essential facility that is used by so many people into a corner of a supermarket when there are so many buildings lying empty? Now there is yet another.

Maybe it's time to post letters of protest that demand: return to sender!

Sunday Independent

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