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Mountjoy Post Office

Mountjoy Post Office, Ulster American Folk Park collectionThis building was moved to the Ulster American Folk Park from nearby Mountjoy village, where it had served as a Post Office and dwelling house from 1861 until the early 1900s.

In 1862, the house was listed under the Post Towns in Ireland as Mountjoy Post Office, ninety-nine miles from Dublin. Like many existing sub-post offices today, it functioned in the converted parlour of a private dwelling house, occupied at that time by Nathaniel Maginnis and his family.

Nathaniel was the first postmaster of Mountjoy. His children all worked for the Post Office – Andrew was a Superintendant of Posts in Belfast, Alexander was a letter carrier at Mountjoy then postman in Belfast, and Rebecca became sub-postmistress of Mountjoy after Nathaniel’s death in 1887.  
When Rebecca married in 1907, she gave up her job as postmistress, and the Post Office at Mountjoy moved to its present premises on the main Omagh to Derry road.

Mountjoy Post Office, Ulster American Folk Park collectionInitially, the activities of a rural post office were quite limited and confined to dealing in postage stamps, money orders and services such as book post and pattern post. By 1861 the services had diversified considerably to include the Post Office Savings Bank.  Other new services included the telegraph – telegraph companies were nationalised in 1870 and subsequently brought under Post Office control.  Dog licences were introduced in 1871; ten years later postal orders were first issued; and in 1883 parcel post started.
Mountjoy Post Office, Ulster American Folk Park collectionA rural post office such as Mountjoy would also have displayed notices giving details of the departure dates of mail ships to America.
Between the years 1851 and 1901, when Nathaniel Maginnis and his family ran Mountjoy Post office, almost 135,500 people emigrated from Tyrone. Their letters home were a vital link between families and loved ones.