Post office closures: ‘The only person I see most days is the postman’
Locals in Lemybrien, Kilmeaden and Swanlinbar feel the loss of their local branch
Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
A 71-year-old farmer from Lemybrien, Co Waterford who uses his local post office daily said its closure is “a big loss” to the community.
The post office, located in a grocery shop, is due to close later this year with the nearest alternative 8.4km away in Kilmacthomas.
Michael Veale, who has been living and working in the area for the past 24 years, said: “I would use it daily to buy stamps, post letters, buy prize bonds for the youngsters and that.
“I’m a farmer and would be sending a lot of animal samples for testing and I would be getting a special stamp for them and posting them.
“I’ll miss it for the pure convenience. I know a lot more people will miss it more than me because they wouldn’t have my fortunate position whereby I have a car but it’s a big loss. I’m afraid the shop might go as well as I would shop there seven days a week.”
Mr Veale said the post office currently acts as a meeting point, particularly for the older community.
“Down at that post office I would meet all my friends and that sort of thing in the morning. It was a social hub and is. I’d meet people that I wouldn’t meet otherwise,” he said.
“Rural Ireland is changing rapidly. There are less and less meeting points. The only person I see most days is the postman, that’s the only person I would meet in my yard.
“That’s a similar situation across rural Ireland, you mightn’t see someone from morning until night.”
Postmistress Kay Veale (70) (no relation to Michael) said she was glad to take the severance package and retire but wasn’t happy the service would be lost from the area.
Breda Leahy (66), has been working at Kilmeaden post office in Co Waterford for 20 years; it is due to close this Friday.
“I’m very disappointed because I live locally. It is an awful blow, I don’t like the idea of locking up on Friday evening and not open opening up again,” she said.
“It’s awful on the older community collecting their pensions but there’s nothing we can do, this is it. It’s going to go and that’s it. I’m an old age pensioner so I don’t think I’ll get a job anywhere else.”
Ms Leahy said more than 300 people collect their pension from the post office every week.
“We would have been a busy post office and we get a great passing trade. We would get a lot of people in, even people from Cork would be in paying their bills.
“People are coming in wishing us the best, that kind of thing. We’ll be sad on Friday because it has been here a long, long time.”
Aisling McGoldrick, a member of Swanlinbar Development Association, said the closure is “devastating” for the community.
“We’re a small community and the post office is a vital part of that community,” she said. “The postmistress was there for years and she was very much an integral part of the community and much loved by all. Nonetheless, the loss of the service is massive for us.
“We’ve suffered a lot through the Troubles because of our location and the Border and in the last couple of years we’ve been doing our best to improve things and get things going.
“The demographic is that we only have about 40 kids in the school; there are quite a lot of older people in the community. I don’t know how they’re going to manage it. I really don’t.”
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Sean Smith said it is “another blow” for the rural community, who will suffer “further isolation”.
“It’s unfortunate that those type of services just disappear from our rural fabric because of the fact that Government intervention has not been forthcoming. It’s so disappointing,” he said.
“People are no longer confident that we will see any type of real enthusiasm to bring life back into our town and village.
“We hear of all these things for towns and villages but when you take away all those services from them, what does that say?”