THE BLOG
12/23/2013 11:03 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

The 'Pony Express' in Ireland is Running Strong

Take away e-mail, expensive snail mail, Facebook and Twitter. Take away newspapers. So, how can someone in metro Atlanta send Christmas greetings to cherished friends and former neighbors living in the foothills of the Slieve Aughty Mountains in rural East Galway, Ireland?

No problem! In my case, I have two routes for it. I posted a message on the Facebook page of Galway BayFM radio station; I believe they will broadcast it at the right time, and the neighbors will hear. If this is still the case, customarily people tune in for the 10 a.m. broadcast to learn the latest news -- who died, who was born, engaged or married, has an anniversary or birthday, and who sends greetings from the four corners of the world.

My more personal method, though, has worked before and will work again. It's a modern form of the Pony Express. You see, my cousin Mike O'Shaughnessy lives in Salthill, a suburb of Galway City, and he knows my former neighbor John Fahy from Mike's former days as a Garde (police officer) in Galway City. John is a traffic warden, so it's natural that their paths would often cross in the course of mutual duty.

I e-mailed Mike and asked him, if he were to run into John, would he kindly send my fond memories and Christmas greetings to those I carry in my heart, and he said he would. Every work day John drives the 50 miles each way from Lissaphuca to Galway City, so it's pretty certain they'll meet.

The other time we used the Pony Express was in 2003 when I was planning a visit back 'home' with my former husband. I asked Mike, through John, to let them all know, and he did; I know, because on the day we arrived back, renting a little cottage in Kylebrack where, years before, I had rented a cottage from Padden Downey - and that's another story altogether - we dropped our luggage in the bedroom and took off walking down the road to Skelly's Market to stock up on groceries. (We hadn't rented a car because of our lack of confidence driving on the left, on winding country roads, and because I knew it wouldn't be a problem with all the wonderful neighbors. And that's another story, too.)

Margaret Skelly wasn't the least bit surprised to see me; she said everyone knew I was coming home. Forty-five minutes later, because of the then-driving rain, Margaret asked her son to drop us back at the cottage. And he did. The Pony Express had been successful.

And that's how we communicate, to this very day. The Pony Express thrives!

(From my upcoming book, A Year in Lissaphuca© - working title)