My Christmas Week…with Mary Delaney, Ballygar Post Office
There will be a great atmosphere here during Christmas Week – and some last-minute panic buying – but it’s actually busier in the two weeks beforehand. That’s because people are posting Christmas cards and are anxious to get them away. Of course sending Christmas cards isn’t quite as popular as in the past, but I find the older generation, in particular, are continuing the tradition. People still like to send and receive cards.
Another reason why we’re busy in the two weeks before Christmas Week is because of social welfare payments. People received their Christmas Bonus last week, and they’ll be paid a week in advance before Christmas. So it’s been quite a hectic period.
Christmas Week itself will be less busy, but there will still be activity. The post office is now a really good option for Christmas presents. We have people in buying One4all Gift cards, phone credit, prize bonds, iTunes (as gifts). So typically, there would be a lot of people in over the last few days before Christmas, buying presents, or maybe the last few ‘stragglers’ sending something in the post. People need to be mindful of the deadlines for Christmas post…for the USA it was the 10th of December, for Europe it’s the 18th, and for Ireland itself, it’s the 20th.
I always find that people are in good humour when they call into the post office during Christmas Week. Well, they’re almost always in good humour throughout the year, but at this time of year you have the Christmas atmosphere and the spirit of goodwill. Obviously the odd person might be flustered on Christmas Eve when they pop in for a last-minute gift, but that’s all part of the atmosphere!
I’ve been postmistress here since 1994. I’m a native of Menlough, now living in Ballinamore Bridge. I love my work. My colleague here is Catherine. We enjoy meeting our customers. There has been a lot of talk about post offices being social hubs and how they need to be retained. Obviously I strongly agree with that. The post office is very much a social hub, we see that particularly with older people. They will stay around and chat to friends, often it’s the only time they’ve met anyone all week.
We’ll take a ‘half-day’ on Christmas Eve and then we have a break until we re-open on Friday (28th). I’m looking forward to the break. I’ll spend time with family and take the opportunity to visit some neighbours and friends. In the meantime, as I head into my 25th year here, I’d like to thank all our customers for their valued custom and wish everyone a very Happy Christmas!
Mary Delaney is the postmistress in Ballygar Post office.
* In conversation with PAUL HEALY