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Mary Flood, Legan

Email: FloodMaryB@eircom.net

 

ARTICLES FROM THE LONGFORD LEADER

12 February 2003

Are post offices an endangered species?

by Robert Cox

Another one bites the dust. One by one the oldest post offices around the county are closing, and the postmaster and mistresses which served their community so long, are retiring gracefully into the wings. The latest Post Office to go was in Legan, where Mary Flood, daughter of the late Vincent Flood, held office at her post office counter.

Postmistress since her fatherís retirement in 1986, she was involved in the business from early in her life - her father took over the branch in 1964.
At that stage the Floods had a shop, a bar, and a grocery - which they sold in 1986 keeping on only the Post Office - and a more different world you could not imagine.
 
It is a world that Mary Flood remembers well. Emigration was rife, phones were scarce and on a Sunday night, there would be a line of people, waiting on calls from overseas, as the post office number was the first port of call, so to speak, keeping families in touch with each other.

"Calls for Doctors, Vets, hospitals, the AI man, at all hours of the day and night. We took messages and made sure they were delivered. Sometimes we had to get up in the middle of the night to help someone out, for one reason or another you wouldnít get back to bed at all. But that was what the post office was then, a community resource and service. It was good to be at the centre of life in the community. But that day is gone, fortunately or not fortunately depending on how you view it," Mary says.
 
Being at the centre of the rural community, a community which is fast unravelling, has given Mary a unique perspective on the situation in rural Ireland.
"People shouldnít blame politicians. It is up to them. If other communities want to keep their post office, they need to give their local office 100% of their business to keep it viable. Back in my fatherís time the local traders worked together to keep the rural village viable. The late Pat Donoghue who was a grocer, the late Matt Carty, and Michael Kiernan who had a pub. They made sure that there was enough business to go around, so that the services stayed open. Nowadays the rural shops are disappearing. It wasnít viable for me to remain open. Wages were being reduced, and expenses were going up," she tells the Longford Leader forthrightly.
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So at the end of a long stint she decided to retire. She received any number of wishes well and cards, and flowers.
 
"Iím sad I had to go. It was a difficult decision. I lost a number of customers who died, or moved away. And those who used to come for the unemployment benefit - a lot of them got jobs," Mary says explaining some of the factors in the downturn.

"Iíd like to thank all my loyal customers. And all the good people I worked with at Longford Post office. Iím sure the old people will miss it. But it just came to the end. Iíll take things handy for a while," she says quietly.
And thatís that.