Thursday 5th August 2021 – Vol 001 Edition 00004
By Jim Campbell
Receiving mail is something we all have in common. Be it personal or business, at some stage, we all receive mail. Maybe it is a letter from a friend, examination results, a present from a relative, a bank statement, or receiving those dreaded bills like myself. We depend on the postal service to deliver it. It’s always nice to see the postman at the door when you are expecting something pleasant by mail.
‘An Post’ is the state-owned provider of postal services in the Republic of Ireland. The company provides a ‘universal postal service’ to all parts of the country. ‘An Post’ was founded in 1984, formerly called Post and Telegraphs (P&T). The state-owned company employs approximately 9,730 people today.
Start of a great career
The role of a postman is to sort and deliver the post to addresses on a set route daily. Kevin Flanagan from Bray, County Wicklow looks like any other postal worker, wearing his ‘An Post’ uniform and high-vis vest as he goes about his work. He parks his car at the start of his round, drags his heavy mailbag from the boot, and starts delivering letters to the good people of Wexford town.
The Bray native left school in the 1980s during one of the worst recessions ever to hit Ireland; Due to this, he thought with a friend about working in the United States. But after a change of plan, Kevin was employed by Malone’s Bakery in Bray. He then moved onto Aer Lingus, where he was employed for a year, working shift work in the airport. In 1989, Kevin commenced with ‘An Post,’ delivering the post around Bray. He later transferred to Wexford town, and after 32 years as a postman, he still enjoys the work more than ever. What follows is a typical day in the life of a postman.
The ‘Route 4’ bicycle postman arrives at the ‘An Post’ Delivery Service Unit (DSU) in the Whitemill Industrial Estate at six in the morning. Kevin and a group of his colleagues, twenty on duty at that time, commence their daily tasks by sorting out the different types of mail delivered to the other areas in County Wexford. Correspondence such as letters, flats (large flat envelopes), packets, and parcels are sorted and put into their respective sections. The mail is now ready for delivery in addition to the pre-sorted mail that arrives from the national sorting office in Portlaoise in Co. Laois.
Today, Kevin and another colleague are doing the ‘flat sorting’ that involves sorting out the large envelopes – these arrive in big cages. Then the group mingle together and sort out the packets followed by the parcels. This check typically takes up to an hour. At seven, he moves over to his area bench and collects the post for the route. Once the mailman has sorted the mail for his area, he now must collect the registered mail and scanner from a different department within the sorting office. In the words of Kevin, “The scanner is great; within five minutes after I deliver a registered letter, the delivery is logged into the system with ‘An Post’ as delivered.”
“You could be on the road by eight or eight-thirty, depending on how heavy his mailbag is,” The postal worker starts his delivery. With a mixed bag of letters and parcels, he makes his way through the streets of ‘Route 4’, pushing letters through letterboxes and knocking on doors to deliver the packages. Along the way, Kevin greets many residents, sometimes stopping for a quick chat. Many mail carriers start early in the morning. They work into the afternoon; this depends on the time of year. “At Christmas time, postmen would work as late as five or six in the evening depending on the size of the mailbag.”
Love talking to people
Kevin feels lucky to be working as a postman, a job he enjoys very much. He applied back in 1988 when thousands of other applicants applied to ‘An Post.’ He was successful with his application following an entrance exam, and over thirty years later, he has no regrets. Kevin likes his work because the letter carrier feels like his own boss once he is on the road delivering the mail. He enjoys being out in the fresh air and meeting people. “From eight when I leave the office, I am my own boss, and I love talking to people. You meet people every day”.
Kevin recalled the many changes since his first day as a postman. “The big difference is technology; not as many people use the postal system due to people sending and receiving emails. Technology is fantastic. Nowadays, we use scanners for registered mail; they are convenient and easy to work with. The transport is much better than when I started. Even the workplace is much better. We have better benches in the sorting office, easy to work on with plenty of room. Not like years ago when we had the old pigeon-holes, sorting the letters by hand was a nightmare, postmen cramped together while working on their bench. The management here in Wexford are brilliant to work with, that makes my job a lot easier.”
Go for it, it is a fantastic job
The advice from Kevin to anyone wishing to pursue a career as a postman/woman. “Go for it; it is a fantastic job. But bear in mind because of the many applicants that apply, it is difficult to become a postman/woman. Apply for the position, do your best at the examinations. During interviews, make the management aware of how much you want to be a postman/woman. The job is ideally suited to someone who likes to be outdoors and enjoys walking or cycling. It is essential to have a friendly attitude and to be well-presented while on duty.”
My sincere thanks to postman Kevin Flanagan, An Post Delivery Service Manager Paul McMahon and Rev Conor O’Reilly for their contribution to this blog.
To apply for a position as a Postman
Apply online at www.anpost.ie
You can hand your CV into the An Post Delivery Service Unit near you
All Images and Original Text © All Rights Reserved – Jim Campbell 2021
About the author
Jim Campbell is an Irish photographer, freelancer and photojournalist. Campbell has being contemporary photographer for more than two decades.
A native of Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland, Campbell studied photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology before going to work with a newspaper.
Since 1998 he has been working with local and national papers in Ireland and the UK. His work has appeared in publications globally including newspapers, magazines and online publications.
In 2013 Campbell made his first of what would become many trips to the conflict areas of the world. To observe more on Jim’s work vist the link to his website below.
Check out his website www.warlens.co.uk
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