Postal operative, that’s the official term. Postwomen, we’re really only starting to appear now. Traditionally it was postmen. Gorey, it’s only the last eight to 10 years women have been on the job delivering.
It was gas, before Christmas I was somewhere and the mother opened the door. The child was there and he was just looking as if to say, “Oh my God”. Then he said: “It’s a postman-woman.”
I would be what’s known as a “lead reserve”. When there are people out on holidays or people out sick, I cover their route. I think, all in all, I cover about 10 routes in and around Gorey.
It’d be all out the country where I’d go. I could be out in Castletown, I could be up in Hollyfort, I could be out in Courtown. It depends who’s off. It keeps the mind going.
I grew up there, born and reared as the lad says. I met my husband then and we moved into Gorey.
I start at 6am most mornings, you’d be in and you could be sorting. If not, you’re getting your own stuff prepped and ready to go. You’d be hoping to be out on the road for 8am.
You’re delivering then until whenever you’re finished. It could be 2pm, it could be half one. Come back to the office then, leave back your stuff, park up your van and head home for the spuds.
I’m from Tara Hill, just 5km outside Gorey, a little rural area. I grew up there, born and reared as the lad says. I met my husband then and we moved into Gorey. I didn’t come all the way in, we’re on the outskirts. I’m a country girl at heart.
I was a hairdresser for over 20 years. I’m a very chatty person, as anyone that knows me would tell you. I loved it, I love the interaction with people.
Then, I suppose, the opportunity came to change career. I was getting older and hairdressing is a young girls’ game, really. You’re on your feet all day, so I opted out then and took a new career path.
As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. I used to be fascinated by the stories he’d tell you about being out and about
My grandfather was a postman, my two uncles were postmen and my cousin was working in the GPO. Then my husband is a post clerk and my father-in-law was a post clerk, so I think it was there in the background all the time.
As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. I used to be fascinated by the stories he’d tell you about being out and about.
He was on a bike out the country. God, he’d spend hours out going around looking at the birds and looking at the sea. He’d be telling you about his day, I was always fascinated by it.
On the frontline
We generally don’t go by the Eircodes. We’d know everyone on our routes. You’d know such and such a man is down the end of that lane on his own with Shep and he mightn’t see anyone. You might be the only human interaction he could have in a day.
Especially with this COVID, you’re very conscious of that and to be keeping an eye out to make sure they’re OK. I think we’re a vital link, especially in rural Ireland.
We’ve really stepped up to the mark now, especially during the lockdowns; picking up prescriptions, doing a bit of shopping, bring the Farmers Journal to a few boys out the country.
I was sitting here at home the Saturday morning and I was thinking, God, I never got a cake. So I ran up town, I got a cake and drove out with it
I think they appreciate it. If you’re the only person someone might see for a day, to think you brightened up their day or you’ve made them feel a bit better about themselves, it means a lot and it makes the job so rewarding.
During the first lockdown there was a couple, they were cocooning. They’ve five children, but all the children are away. So I was doing the shopping and bits and pieces.
This day the husband came out to me and said: “Jesus, Ann Marie, it’s my wife’s birthday on Saturday. Would you get me flowers?” I said: “Of course I will, no bother.” So I arrived out the Friday, I had the flowers for him and he hid them.
I was sitting here at home the Saturday morning and I was thinking, God, I never got a cake. So I ran up town, I got a cake and drove out with it. And the wife happened to be on a Zoom call to all the kids.
I think people do realise how vital the postman or postwoman is in the community
I might as well have given that woman the winning lotto numbers. You drive away and you feel like you’ve made a difference, like you’ve done something special.
There’s been a big increase in post and parcels since the pandemic started. I think people do realise how vital the postman or postwoman is in the community. Especially out in rural Ireland, just checking in and keeping an eye, making sure everyone is OK and do they need anything.
I think people do realise now their local post office is very important as well. They were shutting down a lot of the small rural post offices, but I think now people are saying: “We need our post office, we need that in the community.”