By Sean O’Riordan
An 84-year-old postmaster says he won’t take a severance package from An Post because closing his post office could sound the death knell for his rural community.
John Murphy has run the post office at a northwest Cork village since the 1960s and says it’s as much of a social service as a business.
Mr Murphy lives in the village of Kiskeam, which has suffered the loss of a pub, a couple of shops, and a creamery in recent years.
He is concerned about the demise of rural Ireland, in particular because of the plight facing his neighbouring village, Knocknagree.
The post office closed there a year ago. It now has no shops and no petrol station.
In addition, Knocknagree GAA Club has had to amalgamate its underage team with nearby Boherbue and club mentors say that if the population decline continues, they won’t be able to field an adult team within the next 10 years.
“The severance package [being offered by An Post] is good. But it would be a huge body blow to the village if I was to close. As far as I’m concerned I’ll keep it open as long as I can,” Mr Murphy said.
If he were to close the post office the nearest one is 8km away and this could present difficulties for people collecting their pension if they don’t have their own cars.
Mr Murphy said his post office is also a meeting place where locals could have a chat.
Tom Doody, vice chairman of Kiskeam Development Association, praised Mr O’Keeffe for his decision.
“We think he’s taken a great stand, especially as he’s foregoing a nice payout [severance package] for the sake of the community,” Mr Doody said.
“The post office is the focal point of any village. If it were lost it would be the start of the downfall of the community. We want to hold onto what we have and keep it vibrant for those who are coming after us.”
Cllr Bernard Moynihan, who lives close to Kiskeam, has repeatedly highlighted the threats facing rural areas and declared Mr Murphy is an inspiration.
He said there’s huge potential to expand the business in post offices.
“In my opinion they should have internet access to become a hub for connecting with government departments to process grants etc,” he said.