Mixed news for two south Kerry post offices

Tadhg Evans

An Post has issued a letter of offer to Nicholas Browne's Foodstore in recent days as the campaign to keep postal services in Ballinskelligs received another boost.

It follows an on-site meeting with An Post last week, and the store will now liaise with An Post-appointed officials on changes needed to the layout of the store to provide the service.

Postal services were originally scheduled to be moved to Waterville this month after An Post listed Ballinskelligs last August as one of 12 post offices in Kerry to lose its post office in 2018 and 2019. This was part of the Irish postal service's restructuring plan.

Locals did not take the decision lying down, however, with 200 people attending a public meeting last September and calling for the locality to retain its postal services.

An Post then re-examined its decision and advertised a contract. The prospect of moving the service from the Gaeltacht area to non-Gaeltacht Waterville was seen as a crucial aspect of changing the decision.

Councillor Norma Moriarty explained to The Kerryman that a contract and its specifics, should the final stages of the process prove successful, would be issued to Nicholas Browne's on the opening of the service.

"They are hoping to be open in the second or third week of February so there can be a seamless transition after the retirement of the postmistress, Mary Leane," Cllr Moriarty said. "It's great that a local business has shown faith in the community, and I'm sure that faith will be paid back by the locals".

Michael Healy-Rae TD has welcomed the development, explaining that he has known and worked with Mr Browne for many years, and he described him as a reliable part of the local community. Meanwhile, there are concerns for Mastergeehy - which was granted a similar lifeline to Ballinskelligs - after an applicant described it as "unlikely" that they would continue with the process.

After the application was submitted to An Post, an on-site visit took place with the interested party. However, The Kerryman contacted the applicant, who said: "It's very unlikely that we'll be continuing with the process. I don't think what's on the table would be viable."

Applications can be made to An Post until January 25.

Councillor Moriarty said more applications may go forward before the closing date and that she's sure the people of the locality would give their full support should the process ultimately prove successful. Mr Healy-Rae TD, who told The Kerryman that he contacted An Post to have the application process open until January 25, said he is "gravely concerned" about the future of the post office and described the coming days before deadline as "a last chance" for a local postal service.