Southern Star Ltd. logo

Iconic buildings could fall into private hands

March 10th, 2024 8:30 AM

Iconic buildings could fall into private hands Image

Share this article

THIS week our national postal service, An Post, did what it does best – helped us commemorate something wonderful by issuing a stamp to mark it.

In recognition of the RNLI – the British and Irish lifeboat charity – celebrating 200 years of saving lives at sea, An Post issued two beautiful RNLI-themed stamps.

The stamps depict the charity’s lifesaving work in Ireland and were created by Dublin-based artist David Rooney.

It may seem strange to say that commemorating an event, organisation or individual is what An Post does best.

Many would beg to differ and say that delivering the post is what it does best.

And while that is one of its primary functions, the postal service is, sadly, suffering the same fate as so many other State services, and not quite living up to past standards, it would seem.

Last week this newspaper reported that the residents of the beautiful village of Glengarriff had seen no postal deliveries for many days – some said for an entire fortnight.

When this was queried with An Post’s head office, the reply was stark: The allegations were ‘absolutely untrue’.

Some days after the newspaper was published, a resident sent a photograph showing several items of post he had been waiting for, some post-marked several days before, all arriving together, the day after the paper was published.

To say the people of Glengarriff are annoyed with An Post’s reply on the matter is something of an understatement.

But now, this week, we have the news that two of West Cork’s best-known and most central post office buildings may be put up for sale.

The post office in Bantry, and its counterpart in Skibbereen, date from the late 19th century.

Two beautiful buildings which reflected the importance of the work being carried on inside their historic walls.

Local communities are used to battling and campaigning to keep small, village-based post offices in recent years, with outgoing postmasters and postmistresses admitting that the role is not well remunerated and does not represent a good career move for most people.

There seemed to be something of a complacency setting in, such was the regularity with which small post offices were being closed, or being transferred into nearby supermarkets.

But this week, the news that two of West Cork’s biggest towns could see their iconic post office buildings falling into private hands and the day-to-day business transferred to local shops, was a step too far for many who posted online about the news, and implored this newspaper to highlight it.

As recently as last June, An Post reported it was returning to growth, with 2023 revenues up 5.4%. In 2022 revenues were €888m on a par with the previous year, though in the second half of the year they rose by 3.5%, signalling an upward trend.

It reported that month that it’s ‘transformation agreement’ with unions would be delivering ‘substantial change’ in the years ahead.

It was an upbeat report and its chief executive officer said the service was ‘one of the best-performing postal services in Europe, with an almost uniquely profitable and vibrant post office network.’ It would appear money need not be the motivation for the sales of two iconic buildings in West Cork.

But how do such cruel cuts to local communities represent a ‘vibrant post office network’? We have seen public confidence in the postal service shattered by recent scandals in the UK. It would be a shame if Ireland was to follow suit.

Tags used in this article

Share this article