Wednesday 16 October 2019

Final farewell to Gurteen PO

Emotional day as rural post office closes doors

Postmistress Mary Murphy preparing to close the doors on Gurteen Post Office for the last time on an emotional day last Thursday
Postmistress Mary Murphy preparing to close the doors on Gurteen Post Office for the last time on an emotional day last Thursday

Ciara Galvin

It was as though the whole of Gurteen came out to say goodbye to its post office on Thursday evening as postmistress Mary Murphy closed the door for the last time.

There were lot of tears as locals gathered to bid farewell to service which the community strongly feels should never be taken away from them.

Local shop owner and Save Gurteen Post Office committee member Damian Tansey described the farewell as ‘a very very sad day’.

“Fr Caulfield broke down, there were a lot of tears. It’s been a part of people’s lives for many years.”

The local Centra owner described it as ‘eery’ to see the doors now closed on what was considered a thriving post office.

Acknowledging the service given by postmistress Mary Murphy, Mr Tansey said she helped so many people in the community.

“She helped so many vulnerable people who may not be confident with filling out forms. To take that service away is scandalous, I’d call it criminal damage.”

Asked what the plan is now following the official closure, after what was a hard-fought campaign to try to reverse An Post’s decision, Mr Tansey said, “We’re going to continue the fight.”

He and others in the community now expect An Post to follow its own protocol and stick by its verbal commitments which cited that people would have a post office where they do their weekly shop.

“They [An POst] need to be held to account. We’re going to keep banging this drum. There is an unjustice here,” said Mr Tansey.

With anger now turning to determination, the committee spokesperson said they feel they must continue to fight for the people of the community.

Mr Tansey still refutes claims that closing the post office was done as a cost-saving measure as Gurteen Post Office had a healthy amount of transactions, compared to other post offices which are still operating. Speaking in relation to the provision of services going forward, Tansey said as his shop is a designated ‘Post Point’ it can offer some of the services, but many essential services have now been transferred to Ballymote.

“People can pay bills in the shop but pensions and social welfare can’t. Jobseekers must present themselves. that means they have a roundtrip costing €20 or €30 that they don’t have. They’re targeting the most vulnerable.”

He added that Gurteen has always been thriving and that the closure of the post office was a ‘devious plan’ between An Post and the Postmasters Union.

Sligo Champion