OUT of the thousands of undeliverable letters and parcels which make their way to An Post’s national return letter centre in Limerick each week, it is two historically important items relating to the Nazi era which have raised the most eyebrows.
Some three million items are posted each day in the country, but 15,000 undeliverable items end up in the Limerick centre every 24 hours to be scrutinised by their “postal detectives”, who try to track down the sender or addressee.
Adrian Gordon, the centre’s operations manager, has admittedly seen “everything and anything” pass through their doors, but he was unprepared for the two latest finds - a cigarette case used by the SS, as well as a military compass bearing a swastika symbol.
While some items are only kept for a maximum three-month period before they are handed over to charities or destroyed, An Post intends to keep these items in their possession indefinitely to see if the owner comes forward.
The exact details of when and where they have been posted from cannot be revealed to allow the real owner to come forward and present their case of ownership. The centre, established in Limerick three years ago, has also seen in rise in items being returned from Canada and Australia, reflected in increased emigration.
“These items are obviously hugely sentimental to people but we can’t return them if they don’t give their sender’s address,” said Adrian Gordon.
All details of undeliverable post are logged on their computerised system, even if the address on the item is incorrect. People who have posted items which never reached recipients can contact An Post’s customer service helpline on 1850 575859.
*A full version of this story was published in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated Hanuary 21, 2012