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In the height of the Northern Ireland troubles, such post offices were very vulnerable to attacks
Tom remembers some incidents while running his shops, such as robberies and the civil rights marches.
Trinity College Dublin
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Work and Employment
Glengormley, Co. Antrim
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The joys and satisfaction of having your own business far exceeds some of the few hazards that crossed my path when we had the confectionary and tobacconist shop at Glengormley, with the post office in the premises next door.In the height o the Northern Ireland troubles, such post offices were very vulnerable to attacks. Both my staff and self felt better when I had an alarm fitted in the shop, which only went off when the small push button was pressed in the post office. If this happened, shop staff would immediately let the police know something wrong was occurring next door -thankfully this never had to be used.One night, someone broke into the post office and used gelignite in an attempt to blow open the safe, which was embedded in cement. Fortunately, the safe door jammed and the would be thieves got nothing. It took about three weeks to get it open and the head office had to supply daily our requirements to serve our clients and the public. Even yet, I can remember the sickly smell of the gelignite.Another near escape was when I was held at gun point as I was about to open up. Mercifully, neighbours saw what was happening and the culprits ran off as the police arrived.We had one robbery at the shop when a number of cartons, each containing 6000 cigarettes were stolen from our store room. Fortunately, when the police recovered a number of cigarettes from premises on the Newtownards Road, I was able to identify them as mine, as I had a small personal identification mark on each of the cartons. How lucky can one be? By the time they were returned to me, cigarettes had increased in price by 2p a packet in the budget, so I made money on them!Prior to the civil rights march from Belfast to Derry, a rather sinister character gave us a warning of what might happen if we did not close that morning, when the march passed through Glengormley. I told him that in no way could I close the post office, as it was pension day and many aged people depended on getting their money and would struggle to get down another day to the office. I am glad to say common sense prevailed.
Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)
Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)
Senior Research Associate
Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)
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