This is an original building. The shop was built in the late 1700s and came from Castle Street, Antrim. It was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1995.
During the 1800s Castle Street had a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) police barracks, a house and a grocer’s shop. It is the shop that the museum now presents as Ballycultra Post Office. The premises combine a sub post office with a stationer’s shop. It sold pens, ink and other writing materials and would also have stocked educational materials and newspapers.
A small post office, such as, the Ballycultra Post Office was not just another shop in an Ulster market town. It had a social role in the community. In 1909, post offices were authorised to pay the first Old Age pensions and in 1912 to sell Health and Unemployment Insurance stamps.
Only a few main post offices were actually owned directly by the Royal Mail. A network of small sub post offices provided the main infrastructure. These were privately owned family businesses, often shops in small towns.
In the early 1900s, the shop was run by John Rea (aged 58) and his two younger sisters, Eliza (aged 45) and Jane Rea (aged 42). The family continued to own the property until Jane Rea’s death in 1921.
Look at the range of stationary products which would have been sold in this type of sub-post office.