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This is one of the 77 bog letters. NEWS: Eliza has had a slight attack of "quincy"; good crops and available labour; charity potatoes sold illicitly; sisters Margaret & Sarah nee JACKSON nearing confinement; sending butter & books to London; fear of war in Shanghai; illness amongst McCULLAGHs of Drummuck.
Sharon Oddie Brown. October 4, 2006

Urker May 5th 1880

 

My dear Tom – I received yours of March 17th. On that very day, if I mistake not, I was writing to you about dear old Grandmother’s [1] death. I have also one of Minnie’s [2] to acknowledge dated March 24th. This reply must do for you both, as I am just recovering from a slight bilious attack; and though quite well again, I feel a little “skunk” as the Irish say. I see by Minnie’s, that like an ungrateful creature, I had neglected to mention that the attack of [quincy] was the slightest & most easily got over, that I ever had.

 

            All our family are well, so far as I know. Sally’s [3] three children, Mary Menary [4] & little Mary [5] have had whooping cough. They are pretty well over it; nothing but a cough now and then remaining. It has been fatal to many children in this neighbourhood. We have our crop all in, except the turnips. The spring has been in general favourable for labour & we all hope that this year will be prosperous. There will be some trying times till the new potatoes come. None of the Duchess of Marlborough’s [6] friends came to this neighbourhood, but some of the Lord Mayor’s [7] did; & shamefully it was abused. People getting seed potatoes in Castleblayney on Wednesday & selling them in Cross [8] on Friday. That was done continually. Yet I hope & think that some good was done, some distress relieved & so by the generous donors will have their reward.. You will have learned ere this , of the change of Ministry; Good luck went with Mr Gladstone [9] when he resigned office; I hope in God it may come back with him, now that he has resumed it [10] .

 

I paid a visit to Slieveroe [11] last week. All are well there & everything comfortable & prosperous. Margaret [12] & Sarah [13] are both near their confinement. I cannot say which will be first. I wish they were safely over it, but there is no particular cause for dread.; as they are both in good health. I was most thankful to learn that you & Minnie & the children are so well; may God keep you all so. And it is pleasant to reflect that you have your own nice cool “Creggan” [14] to go back to; when the city becomes too hot. I have been thinking since I read Minnie’s letter, that it might be possible to send you a cask of Irish butter, towards September or October. I know it wd be useless to attempt it now. Tell me would the costs of carriage – leave it too dear to you? That or any other home produce; we would be delighted to send if practicable. Another thing I have thought might be useful to the children, “Chambers Miscellany of useful & entertaining Tracts” [15] . You left them here & I have them all safe yet. I shall send them if you give me a hint. My Xmas box to Mrs Dare [16] was but a small token of gratitude for her kindness & hospitality to David when he was in London. She must be a very kind woman; when she paid so much attention to a stranger, as she did to him.

 

By the way, there are rumours of war from Shanghai. Fore warned is fore armed, it is said; so trouble may blow over; but even if not; God is able to take care of him; and if fighting comes; I hope no son of mine will show himself a coward.

 

The only bad news in our circle is about the McCullaghs of Drummuck. Poor James [17] is now quite helpless; has to be fed like a baby; & his sisters Essy [18] & Jane [19] are nearly worn out nursing him. He is anxious to get to his Mother’s [20] ; but is not fit to be removed. It would be very desirable if he could be brought home; they could then all help to nurse him & besides it would save the expense of a second establishment. Maggie [21] is also confined to bed, & will probably never rise; but she gives very little trouble, I took your hint about that family 3 months before you gave it. They were most thankful. I have heaped coals of fire [22] on many heads, this very year.

 

Blessed be God for the means and the heart [23] to do it.

 

And now good bye, for a time. No doubt I have omitted many things that I should have written but Minnie & you must overlook any shortcomings.

 

With love & blessing to every one of you great and small; in which Father [24] [writes?], I remain

 

Your ever affectionate Mother,

                        Eliza Jackson



[1] Elizabeth McCULLAGH(1788-1880)

[2] Amelia Lydia DARE – wife of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[3] Sarah (JACKSON) GILMORE – sister of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[4] Mary (JACKSON) MENARY widowed sister of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[5] Mary MENARY (1872-1946) – later of Gilford Castle

[6] Duchess of Marlborough, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, headed a famine relief fund. SOURCE: Dublin City Archives: Mansion House Fund for Relief of Distress in Ireland 1880.

[7] Lord Mayor of London – part of a famine relief initiative.

[8] “Cross” AKA Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh

[9] William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898; Prime Minster and author). He started as a Tory, but became a Liberal.

[10] Gladstone resigned, and then returned.

[11] Slieveroe, Co. Monaghan – home of the REED (REID) family.

[12] Margaret (JACKSON) REED, sister of Sir Thomas JACKSON. Her son Thomas Jackson REED would be born on May 25th at Slieveroe, Co. Monaghan

[13] Sarah (JACKSON) GILMORE, sister of Sir Thomas JACKSON. Her son John GILMORE would be born on May 15th  at Liscalgot – a townland next to Urker..

[14] This must be his family home in England outside the city. I have yet to determine its address.

[15] Chambers’s Miscellany of Useful and Entertaining Tracts by Robert and William Chambers. Edinburgh: William & Robert Chambers. 1847. 20 Volumes.

[16] Mrs. DARE likely the wife of either George Mildmay or Alfred Henry DARE – both brothers of Amelia. Lydia DARE. Since Alfred had children born at Walthamstow, London in the 1880s, I suspect he is the more likely one. His wife was Lena Mary FIELDEN.

[17] James McCULLAGH – likely the son of James MCCULLAGH & Eliza WALLACE

[18] “Essie” Esther MCCULLAGH (b. between Oct 30 & Nov 20 1848), likely the daughter of James MCCULLAGH & Eliza WALLACE

[19] Jane MCCULLAGH, likely the daughter of James MCCULLAGH & Eliza WALLACE

[20] Eliza WALLACE, wife of James MCCULLAGH

[21] Margaret MCCULLAGH (b. May 14, 1845) near Ballybay, likely the daughter of James MCCULLAGH & Eliza WALLACE

[22] Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. The Victorian Presbyterian exegesis of this passage may lend an interpretation that is less vengeful than it might seem to a contemporary secular reader.

[23] Ironic, given the glee in heaping coals of fire on people’s heads – repeated in other letters.

[24] David JACKSON (1814-1889)

 

 

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