Locals urged to play role in saving West Cork post office

A West Cork community has been urged to play a meaningful role in securing its village post office, following the death of a postmaster last month.

Marion O'Driscoll has been running the post office in Ballineen, Co Cork, since her husband Florrie passed away in January. Picture: Dan Linehan

A public meeting in Ballineen was addressed by Marion O’Driscoll, widow of postmaster Florrie O’Driscoll, whose death on January 20 led to An Post immediately placing a notice, warning the company was considering the future of the post office.

An Post has since appointed a family member, on a temporary basis, to maintain the service amid local fury over the company’s insensitivity.

A petition is to be presented to An Post. Jim Daly, a Fine Gael junior minister based in West Cork, assured a packed hall in the village’s BEDA Hall this week that he would happily arrange a deputation to Communications Minister Denis Naughten.

Mrs O’Driscoll agreed the matter had not been handled sensitively by An Post but urged those present to look to the future with positivity, and focus on securing the service. She said the family appreciated the volume of local support.

In Kerry, the death of a postmistress in a highland valley has also raised concerns about the future of a rural post office. Locals in Glencar, and also in Ballineen, have until February 23 to make submissions to a Cork-based regional postmaster to retain their respective services.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes said locals in Ballineen, and businesses in particular, should concentrate on the fact the doors of the post office are still open.

“It’s a huge plus in terms of safeguarding the service that the post office is still operating and it’s up to everyone now to push whatever support or business they can in the direction of the post office,” he said.

The post office in Ballineen, Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

An Post has invited submissions indicating a final decision will take into account issues such as network coverage needs and the level of business at the office.

The locals in Glencar are also rallying to save their small post office.

Since the recent death of postmistress Sheila O’Sullivan, the contract to run the post office in Glencar has been uncertain.

In the event of a closure, the nearest post offices are Glenbeigh, 15km away, and Killorglin 17km away.

Councillors warned that a closure will take the heart and soul out of the parish. Independent councillor Michael Cahill pleaded with all Kerry Oireachtas members to fight on behalf of the community. “The parish is very isolated, with the houses very dispersed and it’s a long distance from the nearest town,” he said.

Both he and Fianna Fáil councillor Norma Moriarty said there is an onus on the residents of Glencar to utilise the services offered by An Post.

A public meeting has been organised for in Glencar at 8pm Friday.

An Post says it has no immediate plans to close Glencar Post Office and that it remains open.

A spokesman said An Post is obliged to consult the public about the future of the post office when the contract holder unfortunately dies.

A family member of the late postmistress is running it under a temporary contract.

The decision on the future of the post office will be based on the results of a public consultation.

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