Kilkelly, Ireland, 1860, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara's so good as to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England, the house is so empty and sad
the crop of potatoes is sorely infected, a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Brigid and Patrick O'Donnell, they're going to be married in June.
Your Mommy says not to work on the railway and be sure to come on home soon.
Kilkelly, Ireland, 1870, dear and loving son John
Hello to your Missus and to your four children, I hope they grow healthy and strong.
Our Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble, I don't think that he'll ever learn.
Because of the dampness there's no turf to speak of and there's nothing to burn.
But Brigid is happy you named the child for her. You know she has six of her own.
You say you've found work, but you don't say what kind. When are you coming home?
Kilkelly, Ireland, 1880, dear Michael and John, my sons
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news, your Mommy passed on.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly, your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don't have to worry, she died very quickly, remember her in your prayers.
And it's good to hear that Michael's returning, with money he's sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people are selling at any price they can.
Kilkelly, Ireland, 1890, my dear and loving son John
I suppose that I must now be close on to eighty, it's thirty years you've been gone.
Because of all of the money you sent me, I'm still living out on my own.
Our Michael has built himself a fine house, Brigid's daughters are grown.
And thank you for sending your family picture, they're lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit, what joy to see you again.
Kilkelly, Ireland, 1892, my dear brother John
I'm sorry I didn't write sooner to tell you, your Da passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she said he was cheerful and healthy right up to the end.
You should have seen him play with the grandchildren of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him down alongside Mommy, in the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny the way he kept talking about you, he called for you at the end.
Oh, why don't you come on back home for a visit, we'd all love to see you again.