JJ Logan (centre), Coolree, Robertstown, congratulated by Acting Manager Hugh McLoughlin (left), and colleague Pat Power recently on his last day before retirement from Naas Post Office after 42 years
Some days at Naas Post Office the queue snakes around the thick rope and stanchions in the middle of the public area, almost forming a “w”, giving rise to a few mild mutterings.
Occasionally a customer on the way in sees the number of people, halts and bails out, to return later.
The truth is the queues look like they will take longer to move than they ever actually do.
Naas Post Office is one of the great institutions of the county town.
It’s centrally located slap bang in the middle of the town, beside the bus stop and most of the time both sets of automatic doors are wide open.
Across the street in the Bank of Ireland or the AIB there are two sets of security doors set up so that only one can open at a time. (If security is the reason for this carry-on then why aren’t the post office and Naas Credit Union thus concerned ?)
There are few staff in the banks and some of those who are there simply direct customers to a machine or a telephone (thanks, but we don’t need to visit the bank to make a phone call).
Kildare County Council is in the process of making adjustments to one of its public areas - the housing section - where there have been complaints about the facilities provided for visitors.
The post office staff are familiar to us and it’s reassuring that many have been there for a while because they bring invaluable experience to the job. Often times there are five working.
And it’s a varied job these days. You don’t just buy stamps and save money at the post office.
It handles an array of social welfare payments, providing these in a way as unfussy as you can imagine to people who depend on them.
You can pay bills there, apply for a passport, buy a phone and take out insurance on a car or a house with an insurance company, which is effectively part of the post office.
There’s something else about it though apart from the convenience.
It’s that you’re made to feel welcome; not in an overly back-slapping-hail-fellow-well-met way, but in the way the staff work,
unrushed and having time to chat to people who want to talk.
The post office has become a vital one stop shop for many people and it hasn’t been decentralised to Burnfoot.
It’s there six days a week (a half day on Saturday) for the people to avail of the services it offers.
There have been criticisms elsewhere of the closure of smaller post offices.
And you can see how this has an impact on a small rural community where the age profile is high and many of the customers don’t have cars and are not tech savvy.
It’s also clear that the closure of Naas Post Office - an impossible scenario given the business it does and the number using it - would have devastating consequences for the community, including the many people who live from week to week.
You’ll meet all manner of people in the post office and it’s surely the busiest place in town.
Just think of all those human interactions that take place every day and you see for certain that it helps to knit at least part of the community of Naas together.
It’s also clear that online communication has not killed off the hardy beast that is the post office.
As Elizabeth Windsor might say in a different context altogether “God bless her and all who sail in her”.