He arrived, or at least passed by, each morning at about 10.30 or 11.00 on a busy day. His route was always the same. You would see him at Fahy’s house first, but, if you happened to be outside you would get an earlier clue of his immanent arrival as all of the dogs further into the village would be barking. It was of course, Jack Dempsey, the Postman. He hated dogs and was afraid of them. He never made a secret of that fact and everyone in the parish was aware also, as was every dog – and the dogs were not sympatric towards his daily plight. This is a picture of a typical postman of the time.
Jack travelled by bicycle and wore the obligatory uniform and cap of the time with his mail sack on his shoulder and often a load of parcels on the carrier on the front of the bike. One day when Jack arrived his pants were torn. He informed my mother “that bas***d of a dog belonging to so and so in the village caught the leg as I was passing ….. I’ll tell you Missus, t’was a good job I had no letter for them cause I’d have no trousers at all now !”.
Before Jack, my Grandfather, Michael Costello, was the local postman. In his time the Postmen walked. This was the rule at the time. He cycled to Menlough each morning, collected the mail and worked his route out from Menlough covering Pollnabrone, Upper Ballagh, Sunhill, Derrylissane, Ballinamona, Clooncurreen, Garbally, Skehana, Guilka and then had to return to Menlough with the empty post bag. The route had to be completed on foot and inspectors were plentiful in those days.
After Jack retired the position was filled by Michael Fahy from Ballinalahy who cycled the route for some years before leaving for employment in the UK. After that Eugene Devaney covered the route for many years and in his time a van was allocated to the route and the route was expanded to the whole parish on the retirement of Joe Kelly from Menlough Beg who used to cover the Menlough side of the parish.
Above we see L to R Michael Costello (Esker) and Joe Kelly (Menlough Beg) who were past postmen of the parish.
When Eugene retired the vacancy was filled by Des Doherty from Woodlawn who was with us for a few years but is now also retired. Today The mail is delivered by Mary Collins and the route and mode of transport has changed a lot since the days of Michael Costello and Jack Dempsey. Other Postmen from the area were Martin Joe McGrath, Colemanstown who had his route from Colemanstown Post Office and Patrick Commins, Skehana worked out of Brierfield Post Office. The postman carried a supply of postage stamps and in some cases had also to empty and take back to the post office, mail that was posted in some remote boxes to be processed through the system.
The postman in the early days, and even to this day, was often the only person who visited remote parts of the area on a daily basis. In the early days he was also the carrier of news – being the first to find out who may have died locally overnight or heard how the local fair was on the previous day and other bits and pieces of news that were of local interest.
The Post Office:
The local Post Office for this area was Menlough which seems strange seeing that a post office existed in Colemanstown and Brierfield also. There used to be a post office in Guilka but it seems that it was closed and business dispersed. In my young days, Menlough Post Office also housed the local telephone exchange similar to the one in the photograph. The Post Office was run by the Collins Family. Old Mrs Collins, as we knew her, was appointed postmistress in Menlough in January 1934 out of twenty applicants. She also operated the telephone exchange which was manual in those days. The telephone service closed down when the post office closed and was not available at night. At least each telephone customer had their own line (pair of wires) directly from Menlough exchange to their house or business as it was not unusual up to the mid 1970s to service a complete area with one line. Telephone numbers were also different in those days. The post office itself was Menlough 1, Costello’s Pub was Menlough 4, Harry Mellody was Menlough 7 and Lyons Garage was Menlough 26. Menlough Post Office is still operated by the Collins family but is now the third generation of the Family to continue the tradition.
Some of the images that were familiar in those days and were connected to Post and Telecomunications (Images courtesy of Department of Post and Telegraphs)
Prior to the Collins family taking on the Post Office it was run at a different location by the Armstrong family (Duignan’s House now) when my grandfather first became a postman. The postal service and the telephone/telegraph service were under the one department of Post & Telegraphs. The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was responsible for Ireland’s postal and telecommunications services from 1924 to 1984. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs ceased to exist at that time, and its powers and responsibilities were transferred to the newly created office of Minister for Communications; this was one of the largest reorganisations of the civil service in modern times with it having a workforce of about 30,000 prior to dissolution. An Post and Telecom Éireann, respectively, replaced them. Telecom Eireann later became Eircom and is now re-branded again as Eir.
List of the Ministers for Post and Telegraphs 1924 to 1984
|1||James J Walsh||2 June 1924|
12 October 1927
|2||Ernest Blythe||12 October 1927||9 March 1932|
|3.||Joseph Connolly||9 March 1932||8 February 1933|
|4.||Gerald Boland||8 February 1933||11 November 1936|
|5.||Oscar Traynor||11 November 1936||8 September 1939|
|6.||Thomas Derrig||8 September 1939||27 September 1939|
|7.||Patrick Little||27 September 1939 .||18 February 1948|
|8.||James Everett||18 February 1948||13 June 1951|
|9.||Erskine H. Childers ||13 June 1951||2 June 1954|
|10.||Michael Keyes||2 June 1954||20 March 1957|
|11.||Neil Blaney||20 March 1957||4 December 1957|
|12.||John Ormonde||4 December 1957||23 June 1959|
|13.||Michael Hilliard||23 June 1959||21 April 1965|
|14.||Joseph Brennan||21 April 1965||10 November 1966|
|15.||Erskine H. Childers||10 November 1966||2 July 1969|
|16.||Patrick Lalor||2 July 1969||9 May 1970|
|17.||Gerry Collins||9 May 1970||14 March 1973|
|18.||Conor Cruise O’Brien .||14 March 1973||5 July 1977|
|19.||Pádraig Faulkner||5 July 1977||11 December 1979|
|20.||Albert Reynolds||12 December 1979||30 June 1981|
|21.||Patrick Cooney||30 June 1981||9 March 1982|
|22.||John Wilson||9 March 1982||14 December 1982|
|23. .||Jim Mitchell||14 December 1982||2 January 1984|