I have some friend in Ireland with whom I exchange Christmas greetings.
When I send their cards off, I am always a bit amused that a couple of them don’t have street addresses with numbers, let alone zip codes. The cards just sort of go to a neighborhood in their small towns, and somehow wend their way to the right household.
Still, when I put their cards in the mailbox, the addresses always strike me as odd and incomplete.
Like many parts of rural Ireland, the town [of Abbeyfeale, County Limerick] doesn't use house numbers. Some addresses don't even carry street names. And unlike the rest of Europe and most of the industrialized world, Ireland also doesn't have postal codes—the equivalent of a ZIP Code in the U.S. (Source: WSJ Online)
In Abbeyfeale, despite the fact that there are several Patrick Murphys who live in the same ‘hood, mail has pretty much always made it’s way to the right Patrick Murphy.
The Abbeyfeale postman first delivered mail to the Patrick Murphy who had lived in the village the longest, and they worked it out from there.
"My neighbors would get it first," said Mr. Murphy [the relatively recent blow-in], 40 years old. "They'd have a good read, and they'd go, 'No it's probably not us.' "
Come next spring, Ireland will be implementing is first postal code system. And, in pure Irish fashion, they’ll be overcompensating:
It promises to be one of the world's most specific—assigning an individual number to every residence and business.
That is far more precise than in the U.K., where a unique code might encompass more than a dozen homes. In the U.S., a ZIP Code can include an entire town.
This sounds like Zip-Plus 4 on steroids, but I’m sure at some point it’ll be coming our way, too.
The Irish, in pure Irish fashion, are not 100% enthused about the new system.
…It's intrusive, they say. And they worry it could affect property values. It's secretly designed to make it easier to collect taxes, others allege. Some Irish citizens just want their snail mail to stay slow.
"The bloody post codes…don't start with me on those," said Grainne Kenny, 76, of Dún Laoghaire, a town southeast of Dublin. "They're a necessary evil, maybe, but I think Ireland is losing its charm. We're a small country."
Can't find the right house? "Stop somebody on the road," Ms. Kenny said. "They'll say, 'Over that hill there.' "
"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Paul Davitt, 51, whose address is simply Badger Hill, Ashford, County Wicklow. "No postmen get lost. They all know their own routes. Who's it for?"
But others are giving it a céad míle fáilte. After all, not everyone wants a parade of other Patrick Murphys making “a good read” out of your personal Patrick Murphy mail.
Every once in a while, I get an e-mail for one of the other hundred or so Maureen Rogers in the United States. One was from an Australian landscaper. Even if I had some landscaping beyond the meager front garden I tend, I wouldn’t want to be paying the travel costs of an Aussie landscaper.
But I don’t think I’ve ever gotten snail mail for another Maureen R.
Then again, we have full addresses, and postal codes. Because we’re not, like Grainne Kenny’s Ireland, a small country.
But it’s a small country that’s going to have an ultra-detailed postal code system.
One of the drivers is having a postal system that keeps up with a country that rightfully prides itself on its technology prowess:
"You're portraying yourself as a very modern, fast-moving country," Mr. [former Irish government minister Noel] Dempsey said. "You're way to the forefront in IT, and so on, and you haven't got a post-code system? Embarrassing would be the word I'd use to describe it."
Ireland will, no doubt, continue to deliver mail that lacks a specific address. Apparently, if you send something to “Paul Hewson, Ireland”, it gets delivered to Bono. (My husband once got a letter addressed to “Jim Diggins, Beacon Hill, Boston”.)
Anyway, I just went and googled “Maureen Rogers Ireland” and found the death notice of a namesake, giving the address: Coolaha, Ballymackney, Carrickmacross, Monaghan. What I wouldn’t give to have Coolaha as my address…
May the other Maureen Rogers rest in peace, but who needs a postal code when you have an address like Coolaha?
Rather than tip my scally cap to my sister Kathleen for pointing this article out to me, I googled “Kathleen Rogers Ireland” and found a late, lamented namesake for her, too. Her address?Dernabruck, Cloontia, Ballymote, Sligo