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  • Belfast Between The Wars


Belfast Telegraph, Monday 20th February 1928



Bassoons, tin whistles, banjos were amongst the variety of musical instruments that added to the gaiety of the gathering of Post Office officials who met in the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast, on Saturday evening to bid farewell to Mr. Joseph Yaw, who is retiring after forty-three years’ service in the Belfast G.P.O.

The farewell, which took the form of a smoking concert, was opened by the Belfast Postal Branch of the Ulster Post Office Clerks’ Association, and was presided over by Mr. T. B. MacDowell, Postmaster-Surveyor of Belfast. Amongst those present were Mr. A. Parker, Assistant Postmaster; Mr. R. McConnell, general secretary Northern Ireland Post Office Clerks’ Association; Mr. James McCann, assistant superintendent Surveyor’s Department; Mr. A. Quigley, assistant-superintendent Accountants’ Department; and Mr. R. R. Forbes, H.M. Customs.

Mr. Yaw entered the Post Office in 1885, and has had a very varied career. In reminiscent mood, he often recalled that when the Antrim family first built the village of Cushendun, a post office was established there, and Belfast sorting officials were instructed to despatch all letters for the new village direct to the new post office.

Mr. Yaw was entrusted with this task, and duly sent off the first mail to Cushendun. Great was his surprise, however, he states, when the mailbag was returned from the Midland Station with the comment that they had never heard of the place. On another occasion, when the mail despatch to Ballynahinch had missed the train connection during a snowstorm, Mr. Yaw got out his bicycle, and with the mailbag on the handlebars, proceeded through the storm, and duly delivered the letters at Ballynahinch not far behind time.

He also recalled some of the hours of attendance in the old days at the Belfast Post Office. He had four shifts in the one day – 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Five members of the staff who were trained under Mr. Yaw in Belfast entered the Church, and four are now serving in various parts of the country.

A very enjoyable programme was gone through, the following contributing: - Mr. S. McCord, violin solo; Mr. R. R. Forbes, song; Messrs. J. V. Blaney and George O’Brien, duet; Mr. W. Johnston, song; Mr. T. A. Nelson, tin whistle specialist; Mr. Joseph Walsh, song; Mr. R. R. Gilbert, Irish songs; and Mr. W. J. McElroy (song). The Orpitas Male Choir, under the leadership of Mr. R. Hill, also rendered several pleasing choruses.

Mr. T. B. MacDowell paid tribute to Mr. Yaw’s worth, and said it gave him great pleasure to give recognition of the excellent qualities of their old colleague. Some people think, he said, that Post Office people are governed by the 1,436,000 rules which are in use in the Post Office, but that was not so, as a wise man governed himself by the rules of common sense. He took the opportunity to hand Mr. Yaw a slight token of the esteem of the staff and of the supervisors. Eulogistic  speeches were made by Messrs. A. Quigley, W. G. Mowat, D. Dempsey, J. Grogan, G. Irwin, H. F. Mateer, and R. McConnell.

The arrangements for the social were in the capable hands of Messrs. W. G. Courtney, T. Gregg, and C. J. Parke.


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