The Post Men and The Post Office

A look at the postal service in former days.

Gerry Costello

            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.

               Michael Costello                                                               Joe Kelly

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.


switchboard  Post Stamp  Bedford-TK  Post box  Post Box 1  P&T_(Ireland)  P&T Post van 4  Post van 2  Post van 1  Post logo P&T Manhole  Stamps  Telephone box  sign  classicgreenbox.  GPO  villageboxjpg

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

1James J Walsh2 June 1924

12 October 1927

2Ernest Blythe12 October 19279 March 1932


3.Joseph Connolly9 March 19328 February 1933


4.Gerald Boland8 February 193311 November 1936


5.Oscar Traynor11 November 19368 September 1939


6.Thomas Derrig8 September 193927 September 1939


7.Patrick Little27 September 1939                .18 February 1948


8.James Everett18 February 194813 June 1951


9.Erskine H. Childers       
13 June 19512 June 1954


10.Michael Keyes2 June 195420 March 1957


11.Neil Blaney20 March 19574 December 1957


12.John Ormonde4 December 195723 June 1959


13.Michael Hilliard23 June 195921 April 1965


14.Joseph Brennan21 April 196510 November 1966


15.Erskine H. Childers
10 November 19662 July 1969


16.Patrick Lalor2 July 19699 May 1970


17.Gerry Collins9 May 197014 March 1973


18.Conor Cruise O’Brien                .14 March 19735 July 1977


19.Pádraig Faulkner5 July 197711 December 1979


20.Albert Reynolds12 December 197930 June 1981


21.Patrick Cooney30 June 19819 March 1982


22.John Wilson9 March 198214 December 1982


23.   .Jim Mitchell14 December 19822 January 1984




This page was added on 06/12/2014.

Comments about this page

  • Wonderful story! I found it while looking up post men in Ballygar here my grandfather was in the service of delivering the daily post in the 1950’s. Being in a nearby community I feel he may well have known and befriended the men in your story. Really appreciate it. It gives me an insight into how it was in the dim and distant past.

    By Matthias Shinder (10/11/2017)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *