“I must go down to the Post Office to draw my pension.” Familiar words amongst he households of Ballaghmore for the past hundred and ten years, but words no longer to be heard there as Ballaghmore Post Office closed its doors for the last time in Holy Week 2010.
During the past week Peadar and Marjorie Phelan, Postmaster and his wife, the third generation of the Phelan family to run the village Post Office since it first opened in 1900 recalled their memories.
Bernie O’Grady (Centre) had the honour of being the last customer of “Ballaghmore Post Office” which closed its services recently after 100 years serving the local community.
Peadar Phelan, Bernie Grady and Marjorie Phelan
Peadar’s earliest memory was of the Post Office at Christmas time, when the English and American parcels were so numerous that they had to be sorted on the family kitchen floor, and Peadar further commented that they often kept arriving, until the end of January. They were delivered to each house from the local Post Office by the postman on a large-framed bicycle and he often didn’t finish his route ‘til midnight. Cards and letters were delivered to the Post Office and posted from there to destinations world over, and also at Christmas the Post Office became alive with people posting the home grown Ballaghmore turkeys to their relatives across the water.
Like so many rural Post Offices, Ballaghmore always had the personal touch; with the Post Master quickly realising if a person missed the second week to draw the pension, there was something wrong. Also the Post Office was the place in the village to receive “the news”, the good and the bad, through its telegram delivery service, although it paid to deliver a telegram, people were reluctant to do it, as no one wanted to be the bearer of bad news, reflective of country life.
After 100 years of service the curtain recently came down on the life of Ballaghmore Post Office. Pictured on it’s final day are proprietors Peadar and Marjorie Phelan who will continue their grocery trade on the premises and with Peadar and Marjorie are numerous loyal supporters of the post office from the local area.
Peadar Brown, Eileen Daly, Michael Grady, Monica Phelan, Peadar Phelan, Bernie O’Grady, Adrian Hewson, Ann Bailey & Nuala De Bruin
Seated: Mary Walsh, and Marjorie Phelan & “Holly the Dog”
Certainly times have changed since Peadar’s grandparents Edward and Bridget Phelan ran the post Office for almost half a century, and they were succeeded by Peadar’s parents Tim and Kathleen who ran it for 42 years with Peadar himself taking over in 1985, who was later joined by his wife Marjorie, and Ballaghmore was well-served. The past weeks has certainly been a week for memories: the old hard-back saving stamp books were recalled, costing 6 old pence a stamp; Mary Walsh, relief Postmistress who has worked in 53 different Post Offices, including Ballaghmore for 14 years recalled her memories of postal life around the country and Peadar, the Post Master himself reminisced about his most unusual postal delivery – a live goldfish in a bag of water which was safely delivered, alive and well.
Further strange requests were made around Valentine’s Day, mothers of potential lovers were dispatched to the Post Office to post the long hoped-for card and to insist that the Ballaghmore Postmark be heavily disguised, smudged or just made illegible. Marjorie carries many secrets!!!!!
Owing to the constrictions of modern life we see the closure of many a rural institution, the Ballaghmore Post Office being the latest casualty. Often when one door closes, another one opens. Peadar and Marjorie now have room for further expansion of their grocery business and postage stamps will continue to be sold there and there will be a mail collection at 4 pm each evening.
Peadar and Marjorie wish to thank most sincerely all their loyal customers to the Post Office for over a century and in return Ballaghmore would like to thank them