“They’d want to be right donkeys to try and rob An Coirean,” was the verdict in Waterville yesterday as locals derided the armed raiders who held up the seaside town’s post office on Wednesday — and few would argue the toss.
With escape routes limited to Bealach Oisin, a stunning 60km scenic route to Killarney, and more of the same in the other direction, the thieves were either very foolish or very brave. Laden with tourist buses, the chances of a fast getaway were slim to none.
With two of the raiders in Garda custody in a relatively short space of time, and the hunt continuing for a third, thoughts were with the postmistress, Lisa Foran, a mother of young children, and how she had coped with the terrifying ordeal.
“I spoke to her mother and she is very, very shaken,” said local Fianna Fáil councillor Norma Moriarty.
Lisa’s sister Deirdre owns the popular Beachcove Cafe just a couple of doors down from where the drama unfolded shortly after 11am on Wednesday.
The family are “great community people” and Lisa is “a very good business woman,” Ms Moriarty said.
“She has done a lot with that post office. When you consider post offices are losing a lot of services, Lisa has done very well, introducing a gift shop for tourists. And she does school uniforms as well. She has diversified her business very successfully and she deserves full credit for that,” Ms Moriarty said.
There was also great credit due to the gardaí, Ms Moriarty said, especially their highly successful use of a text alert system that engaged members of the public in tracking down the thieves. However more gardaí were needed in the area, she said.
“Last year we had an incident where a group of people broke into four different premises in Caherciveen in the early hours. The gardaí were alerted while the break-ins were under way, but the call went through to Killarney and gardaí advised they would be unable to send anyone until 7am in the morning,” Ms Moriarty said.
“We’ve a new chief superintendent now and we are hoping they will take a look at the geography of the area, the peninsulas, and see what needs to be done.”
The garda on duty outside An Coirean yesterday was staying schtum. Retailers in a nearby Centra and a nearby Mace were equally reticent. “We’ve done enough talking,” one woman said in the Beachcove Cafe.
The French woman who allegedly took a picture of the first getaway car as it sped from the scene yesterday was nowhere to be found, although the town was jammed with tourists. One elderly gentleman on holidays from Dublin was waiting near the post office for his wife to return. “She put a few postcards in the post box around the time of the raid and she’s just calling back to see if anyone knows where they are,” he said. He has been coming to Waterville to holiday for the past 39 years and had never seen a drama like this one.
“We saw the postmistress yesterday, she looks youngish and very nicely turned out. Little did she realise what was ahead of her, she must be very upset,” he said.
Ms Moriarty said while the area is “not crime free”; “the level of violence on display with people wearing balaclavas and brandishing guns in the middle of the day was highly unusual”.
An Coirean, named after a local lake, translates as “The Whirlpool”, and its doors remained closed yesterday as the tumult continued in another part of the Iveragh Peninsula in the hunt for a third raider.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved