Saturday 8 February 2014

A letter from Ireland, dated 1900
A letter from Ireland, dated 1900
Here follows a transcript of a letter from Maggie Wynne to her Aunt Mary (Wynne) Finnegan in Colorado Springs. Maggie was born in Dundalk, Co. Louth, on 5 July 1879, the eldest daughter of John and Margaret Wynne and a niece of my great-grandfather, Patrick Wynne. Maggie was Grandda Kevin’s first cousin and Mary was his aunt.

It is a very sad letter, in which Maggie tells of her own mother’s death, from phthisis pulmonalis (tuberculosis).  It is also a tale of the hard times in Ireland in 1900, when emigration was, as always, a common factor in the lives of Irish families.  It seems that by 1900 the Dundalk Wynne family had already spoken of their plans to go to America and in the early twentieth century many of Maggie’s siblings did end up in New York. Interestingly, the letter suggests that my great-grandfather, 'Uncle Pat', had already completed a stint abroad by 1900, nearly five years before his marriage to my great-grandmother, Teresa Carroll. Little did they know then that he too would eventually leave Ireland for good, and make his home in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Bachelors Walk
December 2nd, 1900
PS Uncle Pat
is home for good.
Working away. 
M. Wynne

My Dear Aunt Mary,
You will be surprised to hear of my poor dear mother’s death. She died on 11th Oct. She was complaining for some months. She complained of her liver, lungs, kidneys. If you remember the last letter she sent you, she told you how ill she felt. She knew well she would never see America. When we first spoke of it she said ‘you will be leaving me in the grave behind you’.

Dear Aunt Mary,
It is very hard to believe my darling mother is gone forever. My father is breaking his heart. You know my mother was in the Mater [Hospital] in Dublin for three weeks. When she came home she was dying. She lived with us eleven days after she came home. She suffered great agony. She was conscious to the last. We were all around her when dying. A week before she died she took her last farewell of us. So you can imagine the scene that night. She was quite reconciled to die.
She asked me to write to you. I had a letter written to you long ago but was never posted. I am in charge of seven. I hope God will spare me to look after them. Times are very hard.  Now here everything is so dear. I’m not very strong at present. My health is gone down. My father is going in for Hall Keeper in the Young Men’s Society rooms. I hope we may get it, free house light & fire & £12 a year. So think of that and my father’s money besides.
We didn’t hear from Dublin since my mother’s death but I suppose they are quite well. I must wind up my short note with fondest love to you all. Also, wishing you and Mike a very happy x-mas and bright new year.

Believe me dear Mary,
your affectionate niece,
Maggie Wynne.

Many thanks to my third cousin, Phyllis, for sending me a copy of Maggie’s letter.  Phyllis is Mary’s great-granddaughter.

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. What a heartbreaking letter. I have a similar one written by my great grandmother to my mother when her first husband was killed. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Thanks Ellie. Letters like these somehow make the distant past seem much closer to us.

  3. Hi , I just came across this page when I was trying to find some information about Patrick Wynne . My great ,great grandfather was Peter Duffy from Dundalk . Patrick Wynne was an executor of my great great great grandfather John Duffys will . He is described in the will as Johns son in law .I would love to hear from you . Pauline

    1. Replied to your email, Pauline, thanks.


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