16 Aug 2022

End of an era as shutters come down on a great Kilkenny post office

Once you stepped inside the door there was always a terrific atmosphere and it was like a confessional sometimes


Pictured are An Post Staff of Callan Post Office on the last day before moving to Super Valu (from left:) Kathleen Scriven, Postmistress Elaine Bryan, Sinead Brennan and Pauline O’Neill

The shutters came down on yet another locally-run business on Friday when the local post office at Prologue, Callan closed its doors for the last time.

Postmistress Elaine Bryan is taking her first steps in to a gradual wind down to retirement in August. Elaine’s husband, Bosco Bryan, recently retired after giving over 30 years in the prison service. Elaine and her mother Nellie have given nearly 63 years serving Callan as postmistress, 29 of those years Elaine has served.

An interesting aspect of the postal service in Callan is that there are still two letter boxes in use since before Irish independence. One is located outside the library on the Clonmel Road, and the other is at the convent.

It was at the Lower Green Street location that the previous postmistress Mrs Nellie Phelan started the present business before moving to Prologue where she constructed a new office beside her family home.

Nellie was a very well-known and liked postmistress who had an ear for everyone. Her daughter Elaine, who took over the position from her mother, is exactly the same, kind, considerate and with a listening ear.

Elaine placed her own ‘postage stamp’ on the little post office and that resonated right up to Friday with loads of chatter across the counter. There was no need for background music because once you stepped inside the door there was always a terrific atmosphere and when you stepped up to the counter with Elaine - or her able assistants Sinead Brennan and Kathleen Scriven - apart from postal business it was like a confessional sometimes.

That’s what made the little post office different. At Prologue it is like a little republic in Callan town, a tightly knit place where all neighbours watch out for each other. Across the road is the parish hall, where the Phelan family were immersed in parish events for many a year.

Just behind is the Fairgreen and the John Locke Park, (which incidentally opened 38 years ago last Saturday 5 th June) was a place the Phelan and Bryan families gave so much time. At the post office, there are so many stories being told over the
past few weeks, with everyone full of praise for Elaine and her staff, Sinead and Kathleen. Also former staff member Cork woman, Nora O Mahony who worked alongside Nellie Phelan also recalled the great days at the Post Office.

Elaines sister Pauline always stepped into the breach on the busy Fridays to or when Elaine took a deserved holiday, she was
always great back up to Sinead and Kathleen. So many exiles received parcels which were topped up with sweets, Taytos biscuits, bags of tea from Paddy Moores next door just to make the right weight.

Every summer Nellie and Elaine carried a tradition of the few drops of Holy Water on the Student exam papers as they were posted out. No doubt That practice will be carried out this evening (Wednesday) when Elaine sprinkles the papers. The post office has changed so much in recent years and Callan’s post office has become a much busier place since the closure of many of the smaller surrounding rural Post offices.

While letter post has diminished, parcel post has increased dramatically. The post office today is expected to be a commercial and banking centre.

The trucks moved onto Clonmel Road on Friday evening as the doors closed at 4pm for the last time. A team of An Post workers moved onto site to deconstruct everything and then move the operation to the new Super Valu site. All the staff will move to the new Post Office which is situated inside the store. No doubt people will find it very different, but many supermarkets have post offices within their stores.

Elaine will continue to oversee operations until she retires in August. We wish new postmaster Dermot McCabe the best of look with the new venture which is sure to enhance his business. Best of luck to you Elaine Bryan for the many years, of service, enjoy your retirement with Bosco. Thanks for the memories and certainly massive stamp of approval to you.

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