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Snails Eat Mail In Tipperary

The era of Queen Victoria was a time of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military progress within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Before our independence, postboxes bore the insignia of British reigning monarchs. “VR”, “ER” and “GR” latter insignia referring to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V.

Some of these beautiful boxes can still be seen in parts of Ireland today. Postboxes erected since 1922 bear Irish logos, e.g. a harp entwined with the letters SÉ, short for Saorstát Éireann and later PT (Posts and Telegraphs) and, since 1984, An Post.

Since 1861, The residents of Kilmoyler have been posting letters in one of these designer Victorian cast-iron postboxes, embedded in the ivy clad wall opposite the Lady Gregory public house since 1861.  Alas, now in this present age of speedy communication and sophistication, this simple luxury is no more, thanks to snails.

Recently the local postman noticed this mailbox had been infiltrated by snails who were munching on the envelopes contained their-in. On reporting this matter, An Post decided to suspend its daily collection and seal the box causing not a little complaining from local letter writers.

So Why Have Snails In Tipperary Begun Invading Our Perfectly Good Postal System?

In their natural habitat, land snails eat mushrooms, fruit, leaves and any other kind of vegetation they can find. Mostly, snails eat living plants, but can also eat decaying ones. Other forms of food include plant bark, flowers and algae. In order to get a nutritional supply of calcium for their shells, snail food includes limestone and they also eat ready available chalk from rocks.
Snails however also can easily acquire a taste for damp paper and cardboard, because same are mostly made from a fibre called cellulose that comes from trees harvested from plantations and forests. Wood chips are mechanically and/or chemically treated to release these fibres. This produces a pulp which is then mixed with large amounts of water to make a  mush that is passed over a continuous, rapidly moving mesh. The water is drawn through the mesh, leaving the fibres behind. These damp fibres are then passed over a series of rollers to flatten and dry it, then rolled onto huge spools, and sent to factories for cutting and shaping. So remember that paper is made from plant materials and snails simply see it as another food source.

Snails also do not like hot and dry conditions as presently being experienced in Co.Tipperary. They like their atmosphere moist or humid and not too bright, so where better to spend their slow moving leisurely time than in a cast iron letter box, whose dark interior walls are covered in condensation.

So What Is The Solution To This Snail Mail Problem?

The solution, as with any problem, for An Post, the letter writers of Kilmoyler, Co.Tipperary and the snails, is to compromise.

Remove the mailbox from the wall, drill a series of holes in the bottom of the cast iron casing to assist in air circulation – thus reducing greatly the condensation and water at the bottom of the box.

Measure the interior of the box and manufacture a very narrow rust proof wire or plastic mesh cage, approximately one half inch smaller than the interior existing  walls of the mailbox. This space between the interior walls and the new mesh cage, will keep snails away from the majority of the paper contained within the cage.  Note, top of this mesh cage can remain fully open when installed, since it does not touch the sides of the box.

Ensure air is allowed to circulate through the newly drilled holes under the mail box, when re-embedding in the wall space.

Problem now solved for An Post, Letter Writers of Kilmoyler, Snails, Environment, History, Letter Culture and Our Valued Postal System, who can all remain living together demonstrating  mutual harmony and understanding.

Insidentally, studies have revealed that unguent gathered from the secretions of snails can actually improve, even rejuvenate, problem skin. Even acne can be cured. An added bonus is that the cells of the skin plump up, having an effect on wrinkles. The advantage to humans was first discovered after workers in a snail farm found that the skin of their hands was baby soft after handling the snails all day. It was discovered that snails can regenerate their shells when damaged or diseased. Therefore its obvious that what restores a snails shell can have equally astounding reaction on human skin.

Maybe there is a wee business opportunity in them Kilmoyler snails!

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