THE scheduled closure of Goleen Post Office at the end of this month will leave an ‘awful hole’ in the community, according to its retiring postmistress.
Having operated the village post office for the past 23 years, Breda Buckley is set to retire on May 31st but so far An Post has not received any suitable applicants to take over the agency, despite advertising it in March and April.
Breda said while she is sad to be retiring, it will be twice as sad to think that the village could lose its post office, meaning locals would have to travel nine miles to their nearest post office in Schull.
‘It’s distressing to think that it could close. While I will miss it, the people of Goleen will miss it even more, and its closure will leave an awful hole in the community. The post office in any rural area is a very important focal point,’ said Breda.
This will be the second retirement of a postmaster on the Mizen peninsula as Tom Newman of Schull Post Office retires as postmaster at the end of August, ending his family’s 85-year association with Schull Post Office. It is understood that expression of interests have been made to An Post to take over the running of the Schull outlet.
Cork South West Independent TD Michael Collins said the sad fact is that the government is making rural post offices no longer viable and is closing them ‘by stealth’ by removing business which makes running them unviable.
‘There is no financial reward to take on this service and it has to be properly subsidised. The removal of the sorting of post from Goleen, Schull and Ballydehob post offices earlier this year was another loss of income and another hammer blow for these rural post offices,’ said Deputy Collins.
‘Sadly the government fails to accept there is a crisis in rural post offices that needs to be resolved. This will be a very big blow to Goleen, but I would plead with someone who has the expertise to consider contacting An Post with a view to continuing the office in Goleen.’
SD Deputy Holly Cairns said that it appears the government is unwilling to provide the required investment and service guarantees. ‘The glaring need for investment had been established for years and without this intervention, post offices in Goleen, Schull and other areas of West Cork will close permanently in the near future,’ she said. For an investment of €12m annually, the government can keep businesses open and get a substantial return,’ said Deputy Cairns.
There is a smiliar issue at Blarney Post Office because despite advertising a vacancy for the agency three times, An Post has received no interest. The deadline for applications is May 12.
In response to a query about the salary being offered at local post offices, An Post said: ‘Post Office contracts were negotiated and agreed between An Post and the Irish Postmasters Union and are a private matter between An Post and the individual postmaster.’ But they also added that payments are based on transactions done in each post office rather than a salary. ‘There is therefore no set figure.’
An Post also confirmed that contractors source their own premises, hire their own staff and ‘look after utility bills etc’ – all at their own expense.
Meanwhile, FF TD Christopher O’Sullivan said he had started a campaign urging serious contenders to apply for the job in Goleen.
‘It’s the most south westerly post office in Ireland and serves a large elderly community. The service moving to Schull would be a burden to some older residents,’ said the government TD.