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Travelling Postbox

Observed in Raheny, Dublin, over the first half of 2006

This is the building that formerly housed the Raheny Post Office. It was very conveniently situated, the staff knew their customers and looked after them in many different ways.

There was a postbox outside the post office which complemented two others on the Howth Road; one at the northern extremity of the village (at the Old Shieling Hotel) and the other at the southern extremity (outside Smyth's the butchers, and across the road from the Supevalu "complex").

At the beginning of 2006, Barry, the postmaster retired, and his function was up for grabs. The winning bid envisaged a new location for the post office: right in the middle of the already overstretched and harassed Supervalu store. The post office was duly squeezed into the limited space available and the aggro level within the store continued to rise as the post office queue obstructed shoppers and, because of the space constraint, customer privacy was reduced.

God Bless the Powers that Be.

But this is not the point of my story. The postbox which had been located outside the old post office was summarily moved to a location outside the new one. This was done without any regard for those from whom the service was being withdrawn and without any account being taken of existing facilities at the new location. There were now two fine post boxes across the road from each other at the new location, while the old folk in the complex behind the former post office were obliged to walk the longer distance to the Old Shieling or to Supervalu.

There was general annoyance and anger at local level and a petition to An Post was organised. Elected representatives from the locality, in both the local authority and national parliament, jumped on the bandwagon. The decision was soon reversed and a victory claimed for local democracy over the faceless bureaucracy. The reappearance of the postbox on its former site was eagerly awaited.

And surely enough, one morning a postbox appeared. And it was not the old postbox but the one that had been outside the butcher's from time immemorial. On the old site? Not at all! Across the road, in a most inconvient location, and on a green patch spoiling the residents' sign for Rathmore Park and St. Assam's.

Now why did they do that? Did they forget to bring a pneumatic drill to penetrate the concrete they had so thoughtfully used to landscape the hole left by the former postbox? Unlikely, as they had to dig the new one out of the concrete outside the butcher's.

Or, is this bureaucracy's revenge on those who dared to mess them about?

Stay tuned for further developments.

Update 28/2/10

Three years later this saga has again leaped into action. As reported by the Raheny News (28/3/10)

"There was bewilderment and confusion in the Village during the week at the removal of the post box from St. Assam's Rd. West, where the old post office was located on the Howth Road. One Raheny News reader confronted the workmen who were busy uprooting the much used facility, for information but to no avail."

The box has now gone and a "new" recycled box has been erected in front of the MACE store opposite the Cedar's pub. There was no consultation whatsoever about either of these moves.

Was the new one recycled from the old site? Not on your nanny! The new one came from Swords.

Update 3/4/10

Raheny News (28/3/2010) has now reported the appearance of another postbox at the site of the original post office. So I went and took a photo.

And where do you think this one came from?

Just up the road from Foxfield Park.

Moving postboxes are fast rivalling moving statues as a source of local wonderment.

Perhaps we could invent some sort of board game, a cross between Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders , but where you move pillar boxes around the town, minimising the distance travelled and the time periods involved.

Update 6/4/11

The MACE postbox has now got its own proper label. And what template was the label taken from. Why, the postbox at Watermill Lane, also in Raheny. Clearly, as nobody ever reads the Irish, that part of the label was not deemed worthy of revision. Grand.

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