Thursday 19 September 2019

Farewell to Ballycogley post office

Back: Bernie Foley, Mary Sinnott, Mary Boggan and Marguerite Hogan. Front: Gertie Doyle, Ann Culleton, Mary Meadows and Henri Rousseau
Back: Bernie Foley, Mary Sinnott, Mary Boggan and Marguerite Hogan. Front: Gertie Doyle, Ann Culleton, Mary Meadows and Henri Rousseau
Bernie with family members Ned Foley, Helen Foley, Andy Foley, Úna Brett, Emma Brett and Ger Brett
Postmistress Bernie Foley, her brother Billy O’Brien, Fintan Boggan and Cllr Frank Staples

Maria Pepper

The latest Wexford post office to close under An Post's voluntary redundancy restructuring scheme is Ballycogley which has ceased operating after 86 years in business.

Postmistress Bernie Foley and her husband Andy have also closed their shop and petrol pumps and the property is now up for sale as they are both retiring.

The post office is in Bernie's DNA as she grew up in the business and her late mother Oonagh worked in post offices from the age of 14 before eventually marrying William O'Brien who had opened a post office and shop at Ballycogley crossroads in 1933.

The couple got married in 1945 and Oonagh who had previously worked in Murrintown, Rosslare, Bunclody, Castlebridge, Campile and North Main Street post offices, brought her experience to the Ballycogley business and was instrumental in building it up.

She continued as postmistress following William's death in 1961 when Bernie was only 13 years old and after Oonagh's own health began to fail, her daughter became postmistress in 1992.Oonagh died at the age of 79, having been involved in post offices for a total of 65 years.

Bernie has given 27 years to the post office which she relocated 100 yards down the road beside her husband Andy's garage business and petrol pumps, and while she is looking forward to the freedom of retirement, she is sad to see it go.The family are the former owners of O'Brien's pub in Ballycogley, which was sold in 2003.

The post office officially closed last Thursday and on the last pension day, tea and cakes were served to elderly people, some of whom have been customers for 60 years. A big crowd turned up last Saturday to wish the couple well in the new chapter of their lives.

'Oh, it was fairly emotional. Lots of people came in with cards and gifts and flowers. It is really nice to be appreciated. I couldn't believe the generosity of people,' said Bernie.

Bernie heard that when the postmistress in Killinick remarked to one of her former pension customers last week that she understood she had a lot to live up to, the pensioner replied: 'Yes you do!'

Bernie and Andy's son and two daughters helped out in the post office during school holidays. Daughter Deborah is now living with her husband Dave and two children Donncha (9) and Cian (5) in California where the retired couple plan to travel for a holiday in March, in time for St Patrick's Day which happens to be Cian's sixth birthday.

Son Neil works in the EPA and lives in Ballycogley with his wife Helen (who worked in the post office and shop with Bernie for a time), and daughter Emma, who has a 15-month-old, daughter Úna (named after her great-grandmother)lives in Celbridge with her husband Ger and works in Intel.

'I'm looking forward to retiring but I'll miss the people. I'm looking forward to not being tied down. I have to thank people for their extreme generosity and their support over the years', said Bernie.

Wexford People

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