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Leinster Leader 11th February 1961
No Pension for Postman of 74

Nearly sixty years of public service ended at the week-end when Mr. Billy Byrne, Rathangan, handed in his postman’s uniform at Rathangan Post Office. He will be 74 in September. When he joined Rathangan postal staff as a “telegram boy” in the early 1900s he added a couple of years to his age to get the job. A few years later he was delivering letters and parcels. “I had two deliveries a day then-one at 7am and the other at 10.30 am,” he recalled to our reporter. And he made deliveries on Sundays-even on Christmas Day. His wages? “I got three-and-four-pence a week.”

For five years before he got his first uniform-they seemed to be very scarce in those days, he wore only a postman’s peaked cap. It was, he says, about two sizes too big for him. Postmistress then was Mrs. Mather, whose daughter married her successor, the late Mr. Kit Kenny. For 56 years Mr. Byrne worked the Lullymore route, a daily journey of 34 miles. The people were always kind and generous to him; he would never forget them, he said. During the Emergency years, with 3,500 military cutting turf on Lullymore bog, Billy had a hard time. “Everyone of them seemed to get letters every day, judging by the size and weight of the bags. I often had to walk most of the 34 1/2 miles, especially in snowy weather.” He reckons that he cycled and walked well over a half-million miles-“but you can make it up yourself.” (it works out at about 579,600 miles).

He played football with Rathangan from 1910 to 1920. He recalls games played for the Edenderry New Church tournament as being “the best ever seen”. He was Secretary to Rathangan G.A.A. for 35 years. Many locals still pay tribute to his efficient and devoted work. Billy lives with his nephew, Mr. Andrew Byrne, the present Secretary of Rathangan G.A.A. Records in his possession testify to his uncle’s good work, once, when short of funds, the members ploughed a field and sowed a crop of oats to raise money. Clouding the future of this grand old public servant is the fact that he retires without a pension or gratuity. The reason is that he was never made an “established” post man.Yet harsh regulations do not dim his lively sense of humour. He is rich, he says, in having lived a full life and retired with the good wishes of a host of friends.

An interesting article from the Leinster Leader of 11 February 1961. Retyped by Aisling Dermody.

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