IT is not politicians or petitions but people power that will save the post office in Ballydehob, according to the local postmistress, Bridie Roycroft.
Bridie responded to An Post’s ‘exit offer’ – which is valid until the end of next month provided she agrees to shut up shop by October – by printing 1,000 posters to rally her local community and organising a public meeting in Ballydehob last Thursday that saw the hall packed to capacity.
At the top table there was a panel of speakers, including Bridie, who said the post office will close whenever she decides to close because An Post is unlikely to re-advertise the contract in a village that has a population of just 274 people.
Cllr Danny Collins pointed out that 390 post offices are slated to close nationwide and he made the appeal: ‘don’t let Ballydehob be one of them.’
But there was some good news too – the venue for the meeting, Ballydehob’s community hall – has been awarded funding of €200,000 for an extension. Last week Ballydehob businessman Noel Camier welcomed the announcement describing the hall, which can accommodate around 600 people, as possibly the busiest in all of Cork county.
And at the meeting, Mr Camier, speaking on behalf of the local business association, implored everyone in the packed community hall to ‘speak to two more people and convince them to do more business in our post office.’
Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said the huge turnout for the meeting was indicative of all that Ballydehob stands for and she urged people to ‘keep backing Bridie.’
Maura O’Brien, secretary of the Ballydehob Area Community Council said: ‘It would be a terrible indictment on us if we were to lose our post office.’
Garda Jonathan McCarthy – there to speak on behalf of the elderly – said: ‘Bridie Roycroft has been a great friend to everyone in the community. She deserves our support.’
Meanwhile, Drinagh postmaster, JC Daly, said he will have no option but to close his own post office unless there is a significant increase in the volume of his business.
An Post made him an ‘exit offer’ a few weeks ago, but he said his ‘preferred option’ is to retain the business he has operated for the last 21 years.
Mr Daly said he will be organising a public meeting that will take place at 8.30pm on Thursday, May 31st at Drinagh Parish Hall.