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Rural Post Offices – an opportunity, not a problem

We have a problem with rural post offices in Ireland. They serve an important social purpose, but they lose too much money.

The postal company wants to close them down, but the government doesn’t want to deal with the political fallout of that. The post office is where people in the country go when they want to send letters, pick up payments and access a host of services.

Instead of seeing the post offices as a burden, why can’t the company and the government expand their role and make them cost-effective? They could provide an Internet cafe service for a start, for people in rural areas who don’t have a computer of their own. This would be useful for small businesses as well as for individuals. The post office could charge a premium rate for the service because of its remoteness, so the service would be moderately profitable.

Equally, they could be a place for people without a fixed line to access cheap international phone calls. The national telecommunications infrastructure is already in place to allow this to be done at a very low cost.

The rural post offices could operate as pick-up points for small parcels and ecommerce purchases, rather than forcing delivery to visit remote locations repeatedly if people aren’t available to collect.

They could also host ATM machines for withdrawing and lodging cash, a vital service for small communities. It could be filled by the postmaster, with lodgements from local businesses.

A service like this could make a small profit, but it would obviously cost money to set up. But surely it would be well worth it, if it made life more pleasant for tourists, helped keep old people from having to move into nursing homes, and reduced the need of country dwellers to constantly drive into the nearest town to carry out all their business?

(There was previously a story on this subject on’s site, but the link has now disappeared.)

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  1. I think it is tragic if the government closes down the postal system.
    It is incumbent on the government to ensure a workable public communications system.
    In India (where I grew up), rural post offices run-somehow, because they have to.
    Letters are like water: you can’t make people walk too far for it.