Sunday 15 December 2019

Des passes the reins after 57 years in Rosslare Harbour Post Office

Post Office and SuperValu staff make a presentation to Des Murphy to mark his retirement
Post Office and SuperValu staff make a presentation to Des Murphy to mark his retirement

Pádraig Byrne

There was a changing of the guard at the Post Office as postmaster Des Murphy handed over the reigns to his son Alan after 57 years serving the local community.

Des' grandfather was the postmaster in Kilrane, while his mother and father, Marjorie and Willie, set up in Rosslare Harbour, the post office in which he started out himself back in 1962. At his father's side, Des learned the ropes quickly and one of his most vivid memories of that time is the Tuskar Rock Air Disaster in 1968 which saw Aer Lingus flight 712 plough into the sea.

'My father was postmaster at that stage,' he said. 'In the office we had the manual telephone exchange at that stage and there were only four lines out to Wexford. I remember the place was swarming with journalists, all trying to put calls through the switch to Wexford and on to Dublin. My father actually got a commendation from An Post for his work at that time and we have it proudly on the wall here.'

Des took over as postmaster himself in 1970, a role which he held for 49 years, overseeing some massive changes, one of which was the change from the old phone switch board which had to be manned 24/7.

'There were only four lines and every call had to be logged on a little docket,' Des recalled. 'Towards the end it got ridiculous because so many people were starting to get phones and there were some arguments over who got put through to Wexford!'

As well as computers coming in to make everything significantly easier, Des also recalls postmen heading out on their bikes in all weather to deliver post.

'We started out with three postmen and ended up with six,' he said. 'In the old days they would all head out on bikes in hail, rain or shine and would have to cover a huge area from Rosslare down to Our Lady's Island and Carne. At that time, the postmaster in Wexford would insist that the post be on time as well, so these guys were under big pressure.'

Two things which Des loved most of all about the job were getting to know people in the area and his loyal staff.

'I must say, I've had really great colleagues over the years,' he said. 'The staff are so loyal and have been really great to me. It's great seeing Alan taking things over now and carrying it on for another generation.'

'I really loved it,' he said. 'You got to know all the names and faces. At one time I knew every house in the village. In recent years, a lot more people have come in, but it's great to get to know them seeing them come in and out of the post office.'

While Alan is now set to take over as postmaster and looks after the SuperValu supermarket end of things as well, Des is not planning on resting on his laurels any time soon.

'I'll be retired in name, but not in deed,' he smiled.

'I'm going to try to keep my hand in and help out in any way I can, so people will still see me around the place.'

The staff all gathered to congratulate Des on a remarkable career and wish him all the very best with a presentation in the store last week and he thanked them for all their hard work and loyalty over the years, as well as his wife Mary, who works in the supermarket, for her unwavering support.

Wexford People

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