Public meetings are being held in Lauragh, Co Kerry, to consider “the future of Lauragh”, the village near the Kenmare entrance to the Beara peninsula considered to be one of the most picturesque in the South-West.
Lauragh no longer has a bar, the Garda station was closed three years ago, and the current post office is now under threat as sorting facilities are transferred by An Post to Kilgarvan, and to premises owned by the TD Michael Healy-Rae.
Two grocery shops are also to close because of retirement and Lauragh School, now the only school where there were once was three, has only 19 pupils.
Jim O’Sullivan, who retired to his native Lauragh after working in Cork City for 40 years, said he has come back to his roots — but there are dramatic changes.
He was asked to chair last night’s public meeting whose theme was “the future of Lauragh” and said he hasn’t given up hope that the postal contract and possibly one of the shops might be saved.
Most of the people who live or who move into the area are middle–aged or older and do not have schoolgoing children. And the loss of State supports for the likes of the post office, the garda station and such is killing the area.
“The services are no longer supported,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Lauragh, near Glanmore lake and Derreen Gardens, and on the seafront of Kenmare Bay is one of the last villages before Co Cork. It is considered a walkers’ paradise.
Tourism is doing well and the post office is in a wing of a historic house which is part of the Pedals and Boots Café and bike hire business also owned by the Murphy family, Kilian and Jenny.
The closure of the post office will mean that elderly will have to travel to west Cork, to Ardgroom around six miles away, or to Kenmare which is 13 miles away.
The population of the local area is just 232, down from 269 at the last census.
Lauragh Post office, until the changes were announced, sorted the post for the wider area, and postmen with vans operated out of it.
This brought in a small but important payment which kept the post office (about 30 pensioners draw their pension there) alive.
However, the re-organisation by An Post to a central sorting office for Lauragh, Tuosist, as well as Kenmare and Kilgarvan, into Kilgarvan, miles from Lauragh, means a death blow and the post office is not longer viable.
A spokesman for An Post said the centralisation and withdrawal of the postal sorting contract is in line with national policy because proper facilities are needed for sorting parcels.
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