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29 Sept 2022

Post Office closures in Donegal in 2018 - an attack on rural communities and a way of life

Post Office closures in Donegal in 2018 - an attack on rural communities and a way of  life

The retirement of the postmistress in Dunkineely sparked a local campaign to retian a Post Office in the village, but the situation hasn't changed since the Post Office closed

Changing times: Post office closures caused much concern Michelle NicPhaidin reports

News that post offices were to close across the county and country came as a shock to local communities in August of this year.
An Post announced that more than 150 post offices around the country were due to close as part of a deal reached between An Post and the Irish Postmasters' Union.
The deal will see 159 postmasters retire and their offices close nationwide. The process continues.
In late August, An Post announced that, under the deal, 17 post offices were set to close in Donegal, four more than was originally envisaged when a draft was circulated earlier in August.

The revised list included Ballyliffin, Ballymagan,Brinlack, Bunbeg, Burnfoot, Burtonport, Churchill, Culdaff, Culkeeny, Dunaff, Dunfanaghy, Dunkineely, Gortahork, Kindrum, Meenaneary, Quigley's Point and Rosnakill.
An Post said that all of the offices that are due to close are within 15km of at least one other post office and that all were in locations with a population of less than 500 people. Closing post offices will be consolidated with neighbouring offices, ensuring their viability, the company added.
Western counties are being hit hardest by the closures, with at least 45 to close across counties Galway, Mayo and Donegal.

And so it began.....

On August 8,both Ballymagan and Quigley's Point closed their doors for the final time.
Two days later, on August 10, the people of Churchill were saddened to see their picturesque post office close after almost 150 years of service.
It was a sad day for Mrs Wilkin who had been postmistress over the past 23 years. The grandmother of 11 was sad on the final day saying that she would miss all the customers who would come to visit her on a daily basis.
Culdaff followed the Churchill closure on August 31.
Dunkineely closed on September 28, Gortahork and Rossnakill post offices closed at the end of October.

Reaction
The news of the impending closures ignited huge reaction across the county with meetings being held to discuss the issue being held in many villages.
The first meeting to be held in relation to the post office closures took place in Dunkineely where the meeting co-ordinator Roger Meehan informed the meeting that it was important to recognize that the Post Office was closing on September 30 and that could not be halted.
However, he urged the large crowd to come forward with ideas to save the service and called for a joined up approach to the move.
“This is bigger than Dunkineely, we stand by ourselves but if we stand for ourselves, we won’t succeed. We need to come together as a county and as the north west we need to be a force to be reckoned with,” one man at the meeting said.
That was the clear message from the meeting and speaker after speaker reiterated the point.
Over one hundred people attended the meeting. Local representatives included Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, TD, Thomas Pringle TD, councillors Niamh Kennedy, Tom Conaghan and councillor Michael Naughton. All of the representatives pledged their full support.

Appeals

Local politicians organised meetings where subsequent appeals were lodged with An Post.
An appeal lodged on behalf of the communities of Culdaff and Dunkineely was rejected in October.
The community of Burtonport, Dunfanaghy, Bunbeg lost their appeal in November.
Gortahork subsequently closed in October after having lost its appeal to remain open.
The Brinlack post office closure is due to go ahead having lost an appeal earlier this month.

Expected closures

At the end of December Ballyliffin, Brinlack and Meenaneary are expected to close.
On January 31, Dunfanaghy, Burnfoot, Culkeeny, Bunbeg, Dunaff and Burtonport are due to close their doors for the final time.
Political representatives across the county have been exceptionally unhappy in relation to the closures with many describing it as ‘another blow to rural Ireland.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher said: “The policy by this Government in partnership with An Post of post office closures throughout Donegal is leaving a massive legacy of rural decline and neglect by this Government and its predecessor in office, this policy of closing post offices from its inception was a poorly thought out policy and was extremely blunt in its approach. The post office policy being pursued by this Government is going to have a lasting negative legacy within Donegal and one which will last for years.”
The closures were condemned by many councillors across the of the county.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Enda Bonner organised a meeting in relation to the Burtonport closure whilst the Cllrs Séamus Ó'Domhnaill and John Sheamais Ó'Fearraigh organised meetings in relation to post office closures in their area.
Meanwhile, Cllr Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuic organised protests in relation to the closures, (among them a protest outside Bunbeg Post Office featured above in this article).
For many the closures are viewed as a further erosion of resources/facilities in local communities here in Donegal and in rural Ireland generally.

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