That happy-go-lucky jaunty individual with a smile always ready to break on his lips won’t be part of the daily life of the village any more.
e was that cheerful, lively and energetic presence every day of the week, who dropped in mail to a large number of houses, shops, offices and businesses. For all of 42 years Tom Gaskin was a postman in his native Blackrock, but he was much more in what he did to lighten and bring joviality to care worn, busy lives by dent of his personality and generosity of spirit.
He more than anybody has witnessed and experienced the growth in population of the community as the numbers of houses has soared during his over four decades making postal deliveries. Not long before Tom’s started in the job, two postmen covered the entire parish of Blackrock and Haggardstown.
It is a much, much bigger task with the boom in house building turning the parish into a substantial suburban sprawl with Blackrock not recognisable from the quiet fishing village that in summer was a popular holiday destination and Haggardstown a small largely rural area with only hundreds of residents. It is now the hub of house building and industrial growth in the Dundalk district.
So there are a lot more postmen serving the area, and to help them in that task leg power has largely gone, with bicycles now replaced by vans and other more suitable forms of transport employed to make the daily deliveries to homes.
Tom’s heart remained in the community where he grew up and stayed very closely attached although he moved to live in Newry.
He retained close friendships with friends and neighbours, but he was a friend to everybody with his kind and flamboyant nature.
He brought frivolity into the all too serious journey of life with his dress and demeanour. An abiding memory from recent years is of Tom at Christmas, a Santa hat on his head and flying on his bicycle along his route with a local dog running alongside him.
Tom so much enriched life in the village and further afield in his spare and leisure time.
He pursued a fitness regime and heavily engaged in weight lifting, which for years saw him swap Guinness world records with fellow local man Denis McKeown for beer keg lifting.
He was into music, a close friend of musician and the great national entertainer Brush Shields, and excelled as a disc jockey, and gave his energy and time to charity.
He will be greatly missed, but all his customers and many friends and acquaintances wish Tom many long, happy and healthy years in retirement. He was a special character in so many lives and Blackrock was so fortunate to have him for so long to raise their spirits while delivering the post.