Ni­cola shuts post of­fice door for the fi­nal time

Wexford People - - NEWS - By BREN­DAN KEANE

THE POST OF­FICE in Car­rig-on-Ban­now closed its doors for the fi­nal time at the week­end and for post­mistress Ni­cola Howlin it marked the end of a postal ser­vices ca­reer stretch­ing back over 33 years.

‘We opened the post of­fice on May 1, 1985, and when it closed on Fri­day it was 33 years and seven months in op­er­a­tion,’ she told this news­pa­per.

Such is the sig­nif­i­cance of the post of­fice to the lo­cal com­mu­nity that for years many lo­cal peo­ple would re­fer to the fact they were ‘go­ing to Ni­cola’s’ to do busi­ness rather than say they were go­ing to the post of­fice.

It was a re­flec­tion on the so­cial im­por­tance of the post of­fice lo­cally and that was in­dica­tive of how im­por­tant they are in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in gen­eral and that fact didn’t go un­no­ticed on Ms Howlin.

‘A lot of peo­ple have been very up­set over the last few weeks know­ing it was clos­ing,’ she said.

‘There is a very im­por­tant so­cial as­pect to the post of­fice es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas and for some peo­ple it’s the only so­cial out­let they will have all week,’ she added.

Ms Howlin said post of­fices have not been used to their full ca­pac­ity and at­trib­uted that to be­ing one rea­son why clo­sures were and are in­evitable.

‘Post of­fices have not been used to their full ca­pac­ity but it’s too late now,’ she said.

‘It should have been done 10 years ago but it wasn’t,’ she added.

‘There is a so­cial as­pect to post of­fices but un­for­tu­nately peo­ple do not value that.’

Such was the emo­tion sur­round­ing the clo­sure on Fri­day that Ms Howlin said some cus­tomers were cry­ing when they went in to see her and she said that was re­flec­tive of how post of­fices help com­bat lone­li­ness and ru­ral iso­la­tion.

‘A lot of peo­ple feel lonely and we give them time,’ she said.

‘Peo­ple suf­fered a lot over the last few years through the re­ces­sion and you would hear about it here and you would try to brighten up their day a bit,’ she said.

‘You would try to give them some­thing to smile about.’

Ms Howlin said in­ter­ac­tion with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and the peo­ple around the par­ish is what she will miss most now.

‘The post of­fices were in­sti­tu­tions in lo­cal vil­lages and meet­ing lo­cal peo­ple ev­ery day was great,’ she said.

‘It’s that in­ter­ac­tion with the com­mu­nity that I will re­ally miss,’ she added.

She also sug­gested that many more clo­sures are im­mi­nent and com­mented: ‘There will not be that many left.’

Ms Howlin said she knew since March that she would be clos­ing fol­low­ing a meet­ing with her union and added that while around 600 peo­ple were given new con­tracts for her there was no other vi­able op­tion.

‘Tech­nol­ogy hasn’t helped us ei­ther as peo­ple are do­ing a lot of busi­ness on­line and are be­ing en­cour­aged to do so,’ she said.

She said An Post and the Gov­ern­ment tried to do the best they could but were per­haps not for­ward-think­ing enough in some re­spects.

‘Peo­ple don’t send let­ters that much any more and parcels that would go out would be de­liv­ered di­rectly,’ she said.

‘There would have been a post of­fice ev­ery three miles but now it’s about ev­ery 15km,’ she added.

Ms Howlin said the busi­ness model for Ir­ish post of­fices was based on an

English ver­sion and that’s some­thing that An Post is try­ing to change.

‘It’s ba­si­cally been the same model since 1904 and they want to change that,’ she said.

‘The big­ger post of­fices were sub­si­dis­ing the smaller ones and they want to change it so that ev­ery­one is get­ting paid the same but that will dec­i­mate the smaller ones un­less you could in­crease the vol­ume of their busi­ness,’ she added.

When asked what she will miss most about not be­ing a post mistress any­more Ms Howlin said: ‘It will be the in­ter­ac­tion with peo­ple com­ing in and out. I’ve shared a lot with the peo­ple and I will miss that.’

She said for her the clo­sure was per­haps not as dif­fi­cult to take as other peo­ple in sim­i­lar po­si­tions.

‘I’m in­volved in things in the com­mu­nity and I have the B&B as well but for peo­ple in their 50s it could be very dif­fi­cult,’ she said.

Ms Howlin pointed out that lo­cal shop owner Breda Walsh will be pro­vid­ing as many ser­vices as she can that were pro­vided in the post of­fice.

‘Breda will be pro­vid­ing a cer­tain amount of ser­vices in­clud­ing bill pay­ments and I would en­cour­age lo­cal peo­ple to visit the shop and keep sup­port­ing lo­cal busi­ness as much as they can,’ she said.

Lo­cals and school­child­ren with post­mistress Ni­cola Howlin out­side the post of­fice last Fri­day.

ABOVE: Breda Walsh, Phil Walsh, Pamela Sin­nott and Mary Kee­gan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.