I have a vague memory of my mother showing me this letter from “our relatives in Ireland” that may or may not have been real. It was probably sent to her by her brother, Hugh Simmers, who may have been pulling her leg. Brother Bill recently did a good job of reading it in authentic Irish Brogue.
There are some family names in the letter. Bridget, for instance, was the middle name of Hugh’s grandmother, Margaret Bridgit Wigmore, whose father, Stephen, was born in Ireland in 1843 and immigrated to New York in the 1860s. He doubtless left some family behind in the old country. Moreover, Stephen had a brother named Timothy, who may have stayed in Ireland.
The letter makes good reading regardless of whether it’s real. It’s addressed, County Cork, Ireland.
Your welcome letter received and me and your Aunt Bridget thank you for the money you sent us. We have had nine masses said for your grandmother and grandfather–God rest their souls.
You have gone on to high places in America. God bless you. I hope you’ll not put on airs and be forgetting your native land.
Your cousin, Hugh O’Toole, was hanged in Londonberry last week for killing a policeman. May God rest his soul and may God’s curse be on Jimmy Callahan, the informer. May he burn in hell. God forgive me.
Times are not as bas as they might be. The herrings are back and nearly everyone has a hard time making ends meet. The price of fish is good.
We had a grand time at Pat Muldoon’s wake. He was a baltherskite and it looked good to see him stretched out iwth his big mouth shut. He is better off dead and he’ll burn till the damned place freezes over. He had too many friends among the Orangemen. God curse the lot of them.
Bless your heart, I almost forgot to tell you, your Uncle Dinny took a pot shot at a turncoat from back of a hedge, but he had too much to drink and missed–God curse the dirty drink.
I hope this letter finds you in good health and may God keep reminding you to send money.
Your cousin, Biddie, had a baby. One of them Limey officers in fancy uniform took advantage of her. He offereed to marry her but her father said “NO”, better a bastard in the family than a bloody Englishman. God bless him and may the child never know.
Father O’Flaherty, he baptized you, God rest his soul, is now feeble-minded. He sends his blessings.
Nellie O’Malley, the brat who went to school with you, has married an Englishman. She’ll never have any luck.
God take care of the lot of you and keep you from sudden death.
Things look bright again. Every police barracks and Protestant Church in County Cork has been burned to the ground. Thanks be to God.
Keep sending money.
Your devoted cousin
Michael Howard says
Found very same letter in my Aunt’s papers. What is this letter. I took a photo of it as it was worth a laugh.
What is this and where did it come from. The letter you posted is the same to the letter. Mine is in original type on old wax like paper.
Boyce Thompson, Jr. says
Michael–Sounds like your letter is a lot more “original” than mine. You are the second person who has said they have the same letter. Looks like it was a masterful prank. Wonder how it got distributed so widely in the days before the Internet.
Laura Horgan says
Hi Boyce and Michael I also have the same letter and have been trying to track it down. My copy is on onion-skin and type written.. I do have relatives from Cork the Ballygarven area specifically. Should you ever find that this is a true I should be interested in the particulars… Our family settled in Massachusetts
oh so bizarre, i also found the exact same letter amongst my grandfathers belongings, who lived in Sydney Australia. Some of the name’s mentioned have been changed, and the part about ‘putting on aires’ refers to Australia, not America, but everything else is the same.
I know that he’s Mother came to Australia from County Cork during the late 1800s.
Glad to see I’m not the only one with this letter. Mine is hand written with Aussie instead of America with peoples names changed. The letter I have was amongst my fathers war time belongings in New Zealandand and on the last page there is a note to him with reference to my mother, eg. P.S. If you have any complaints you had better send them to (my mothers name) and it is signed Joan. The main letter is signed by Timothy O’Reiley. All the letter is in the same handwriting and after doing family history for years I know the only Irish relatives would be in County Down. Makes you think though.
Why do i have the same letter??? I have family from Cork, My Grandmother was a Genealogist and i found it in her things….mine is typed.
I live in Wisconsin
I too have the same letter … and many Aunt Bridget’s and uncle Dinny’s in my geneology. We all got the best laugh after finding this in my grandmother’s papers. Actually relieved to figure it’s a prank but still love it!
Hi, i collect books as a hobby. I recently went to pick up some old books that someone was giving away. To my great surprise, the exact letter described above fell off an old world atlas. The letter was written with a type-writting machine. There is a few differences though between the letter i found and the one posted above. Mine had no spaces between the lines. Also on top it says: COUNTY CORK, IRLAND. DEC. 25, 1967. A spelling mistake in Ireland and a date. Also at the end it was signed: Your devoted cousin Minnie. I live in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.
It’s interesting because I have a similar letter, but dated July 11, 1942. Same references to ‘real’ people as well as the above. My relatives came through Boston too. The letter was also on onion skin type thin paper with my mothers things. We all thought it was real at that time.
After a few years now, I think this wasn’t a prank. I think it was a real letter, sent out to help raise money for their causes… Remember, there were real life tragedies and is wasn’t “until 1949 that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland.” (wiki)
Wonder since they seem to come from the Cork County area, if indeed this had an ounce of truth at that time. Junk mail today says “Dear Sir” but in Ireland, we’re all cousins, so it’s Dear Cousin Pat. And tell me how many Irish folks don’t have a Pat or Bridget that they are related to? This is sort of the “spam” of the day. Reminds me of the ladies guilds that sit and stuff envelopes for charities.
Oh well – I too have a similar letter that was in my late mother’s belongings. Mine is hand written in an old notebook and as such never sent. I was always curious about the handwriting as it wasn’t what I expected from a letter dated 1921.
I kept it with other family items for years and only recently wondered about its origins. Seems my curiosities should have been investigated sooner.
Still a good read and I would live to know the origins.
I also have a similar copy of the letter I found in my inlaws house after their passing. It’s dated July 6, 1940. The paper is yellow and typewritten. For years we’ve wondered if it was real, but found it funny nonetheless. I do believe it must have been a typical Irish joke @ the time. My father in law was Irish and lived in Scranton PA My family still gets a laugh when they read it. Thanks for sharing and resolving some of the mystery.
Just found a copy in my uncles house after his passing. Also type written and appeared old. The letter has a few small changes but 90% is the same its dated dec. 13,1942 Beverly Mass.
I also have a letter found in an old magazine the letter starts at the top right corner . County Cork Ireland. Begins with dear cousin and ends with your devoted cousin Timothy . It is all hand written and hand signed. It is not a photocopy. Interesting.
LOL just found the same letter tucked away with old photographs. Sure happy I found this site because I thought maybe there were some skeletons in our family history. Anyway it is funny..
The letter I have is from County Cork dated Dec 9 1941. It is also handwritten.
Could it have been an old chain letter where people actually did send money?
Gail Bland says
Finally, I’ve been put out of my misery. I have the same letter dated 1944, addressed Dear Cousin, and signed off, Your Devoted Cousin Timothy. It was with my uncle’s belongings with a photo of 3 men included. Hand written in pencil and sent to Sydney, Australia, but no incriminating envelope found with it. I desperately tried to make sense of where it came from and to whom and how they related to us. Everytime we read it we laugh, but can’t help wondering where it’s originated. Andrina’s comment suggesting a chain letter is an interesting thought!
Jack Gordon says
I have an almost identical letter from the late 40s, this one from Kerry. Unbelievably, one of my relatives gave it to others in the family relishing the anti-Protestant, anti-English tilt of the thing; naturally, the recipients were both Protestant and of English ancestry. The giver passed it off as authentic and as coming from his brother (it was addressed “Dear Brother.” I think it never dawned on my Irish relative that it is less insulting to Englishmen and Protestants than to Irish Catholics, who come off as greedy, murderous, arsonists!
Carole Riley says
Gail, do you know who the people are in the photo? I would be interested to know if they were political prisoners!
My family has the same letter, handwritten, as described by Mike above. We did come from county Cork, but this is written as if from someone in Northern Ireland, don’t you think?
My wife just found this letter in a tin that belonged to her grandmother. It is type written on Snoopy stationary without any date though. This one starts off with “Dear Cousin John”.
I just read about this letter in the latest issue of “Descent” (the Journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists).
Not everyone recognises the letter as a fake – see this site: http://stodg.blogspot.com.au/2009/03/irish-letter-on-st-patricks-day.html
Hank O'Hair says
A further clue as to the origin of this letter:
It also appeared on page 4 of “The Palm Beach Post” newspaper (West Palm beach, Florida) Feb 26, 1957.
I also suggest you to google-search using some of the non-common words from the letter e.g .
“masses said” informer herrings turncoat protestant
You will find it on over a hundred websites.
So…. did this really originate from the Palm Beach Post in 1957 or from some jokester Irishman earlier? Are there any Sherlock Holmes types out there who’d like to follow this up?
Jacqui O'Regan says
BAHAHAH, thank the lord I stumbled upon this webpage. I too have the very same typed undated letter from Kilderry County Cork Eire, addressed to “My dear cousin Michael” who had apparently gone high in Australia. I can now stop wasting my time looking for the source.
Darlene Cunningham says
Just found this same letter! The return address is County Cork Ireland and it is dated December 28,1940. What a lark!
I just found this same letter; it’s typed and dated County Cork,Ireland in November 1958. I thought I had found a great piece of history!!! And ironically I found it in my mother’s belongings today on St. Patrick’s Day!!
Still a great letter. We do have relatives in different parts of Ireland so I thought it was credible! Think of how many others didn’t know if it were true, before the Internet!!
I have the same letter! Found decades ago, thought it was original! Riotous! It just resurfaced so I’m googling! Lol, this is fun! Some different names, mine handwritten on yellowed Lined paper in distinctive Catholic Penmanship!
My letter is dated Sept 8th, 1940 – It is typed in blue ink on white paper, to: Cousin Mike, from Pat.
Ours is dated 17 th of March 1855 and features Hughie O’Toole, tommy Rogers, Father O’Flaherty, the Brennans uncle Dinny, Aunt Bridget and Milly O’Brien. Again sent from Cork purportedly to my Hughes ancestors in Western Australia. It still makes me laugh! Could it be an old Irish ‘419’ style scam?
Mine is dated 17 march, 1980 from cousin Timothy, so either this has been around for awhile or many copies with slightly differing information were distributed. There is no mention of houghie o’tool or a hanging of same occurring in Londonderry in 1980 so I surmise that it is a fake but for reasons unknown.
Shawna Reis says
My grandmas maiden name is Thompson. Her father Virgil Thompson was born in SF along with her mother Rosemarie Dunne. I found a typed letter almost identical to this. Its crazy. I know my family from both sides is from Ireland.
Hi! This morning when I got to work the same letter was on my desk. I work for the police dept with a lot of clowns so I knew it most be some kind of joke. So I decided to google the first line of the letter to find out I was correct.
Andrew cavanaugh says
I have a same form of letter found amounst my grandmother’s effects. Roughly same format. Used my family name. Dated March 1958. Cousin Michael hung in London last week. The herring are back, nearly everyone has heart in making ends meet. 7 masses said for grand parents, Nellie o’brien the brat you went to shool with married an Englisman, we always knew she’ld turn out to be a prostitute, It looked good to see Serrance Muldoon stretched out with his mouth shut forever, he was too close the those orangemen anyway, Uncle Dinny took a shot at the turncoat but was too drunk, gods curse be on the dirty drink…………………..paraphrased… long letter. You should be able to associate.
I have just found the same typed letter going through my grandfathers papers. I thought it was a beauty of a letter and when googling Hughie O’Toole found the rest of all of you guys. I love it! Random and weird that the letters were all kept. I live in Melbourne, Australia.
michele furness says
oh my god ive had this letter for years found it in my great uncles paperwork, read it out loud to a lot of stunned aunts, was going to try and trace it in my family tree but obviously I wont bother now, oh well a bit disappointing all these years thinking I had an irish murderer in the family hahahaah
Absolutely interesting. This summer I bought some old popular mechanics magazines in Anaconda, MT and two old typewriter carbons fell from one of them. Although I was not able to read it in its entirety they were this letter. The magazine was dated 1941 and the letter dated County Cork March 1941. It had the four line poem titled Yard Bird Blues at the top. It appeared that a number of copies were made from these carbons at least six.