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Several years ago, while visiting my grandparents, my grandma gave me a small packet of letters letters from Ireland to photocopy. They were written by my great-great uncle, William Basquill, to my great grandmother, Helen Thompson. When I got home, I promptly put the letters in a very safe place. So safe, that I couldn't find them, and they remained hidden until my most recent move.

I eventually found the letters and immediately read them. I was hoping that they would contain information about family in Ireland. They do. A lot of the letters are taken up with reminiscing about who has died and the dwindling friends and family who remain. Both Willie and my great grandmother were in their late 70s when the letters were written. It's clear that Willie, at least, was feeling the passage of time. He laments over and over again about how much things in Castlebar have changed.1

Another thing I noticed, while reading the letters, is that Willie repeats himself a lot. I think that's due in part to the length of time between letters and the unreliability of the post, as well as Willie's apparent unreliability when it comes correctly addressing letters.

I found reading the letters to be incredibly sad. Nell died a just month after Willie's last letter. I wonder if she ever received it, as Willie comments that it seems to be taking a month for her letters to get to him. Willie himself died just a couple of years later.

Shelly Couvrette
September 3, 2007


December 9, 1969
April 7, 1970
September 27, 1972
February 3, 1973
April 22, 1973
December 4, 1973
March 1, 1974
June 9, 1974
Undated letter

 

Sources

1. Pat Deese has an absolutely amazing collection of County Mayo genealogical information. One of the gems is a table of population change in Killawalla, County Mayo. It's heartbreaking.

 

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