April 28th, 77
My Dear Sarah,
I hope your spree will not be a dangerous one and that you will beware of [???] and canals and especially young men as there is not so much danger in the ladies, I need not warn. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Belfast but I am afraid you have been tippling as you say you did not know the Antrim road. I am glad to hear that the B's are well. I hope J. Jackson has got a mud-wall to bring his bride to for I think they would fight like cats in Urker with so many she's in it. I think Mary is counting the chickens before they are hatched. I am sorry to hear of Cready's illness but hope it will not signify. You say you think you are glad at the prosperity of Range ducks, turkeys. I say thinking is bad witt for a child of your age. The girls are doing very modestly coming on to May.
We have got all the corn in at home and Andy is at Drummalt putting in his. John is gone up to Baliaborough since Tuesday and has not returned. I did not see Mary Reid but once since you left so you see they do not care much about us you being absent but their is an excuse as their [horse] has been ill twice and the crop to put in. We rote to Mr. Dickie about your money and let him know it was full time he would do something.
And now in conclusion to him who loves you even as a hen loveth her chickens, and as a cat gathereth her kittens under her wings, to him be all the fun.
[The following is in Sarah McCullagh's writing, written on an empty part of the
"Some represent evil or sin as an abortive attempt after good - making sin & weakness strength & virtue synonomous terms." Mr. Ferris this week.
NOTE FROM WENDY JACK: This letter has had me scratching my head for some time, trying to decide who wrote it. The obvious answer appears to be Sarah's brother James: he inherited his father's property at Derryvalley, the letter implies that Sarah is normally a member of the household, and according to their father's will their brother Andy inherited his father's lands at Drummalt (Dromalt). Against this is a comparison of the handwriting in this letter with that of the next, which was definitely written by brother James. At first glance the writing in the two letters appears to be quite different, but on closer examination the basic letter formation is the same, so could the differences merely be due to time (17 years between the letters)? It also seems a bit strange to refer to your own sister by her surname (Mary Reid). And who on earth was John? Brother John was presumably in the USA. Or had he returned to Ireland and been reconciled with his dying father? Or was this another of the related McCullagh families, who by coincidence were also living in the townland of Derryvalley at this time? The all had the same set of given names (Thomas, James, John, George, Mary, Margaret, Sarah) so the names are no help. On the balance of things, I think the writer was probably Sarah's brother, but I'm not so sure that I'd bet the bank!
 Derrivalley, home to McCULLAGH family in Co. Monaghan
 Sarah McCULLAGH later to be WHITESIDE, sister of the writer of the letter.
 “The Bs”? I would guess who she stayed with in Belfast.
 John JACKSON (1839-1886), older brother of Sir Thomas JACKSON married about 1877
 Kate Marie Jane WHITING , wife of John JACKSON
 Urker, Crossmaglen, the family home for the JACKSONs. Mary GRIFFIN would have been living there having just married in October 1876, also her daughter Mary MENARY from her previous marriage. Also David JACKSON (1814-1899) and his wife Eliza OLIVER (1815-1903). There were also likely more family members there as well.
 Mary GRIFFIN née JACKSON (1844-1921)
 Miss Mary Anne McCREADY (?-1896), the governess of the McCULLAGH family.
 Andrew Bradford McCullagh
 Drummalt – another townland associated with McCULLAGHs
 John “Jack” McCULLAGH (1847-1909), this is the brother that would emigrate to America.
 Mary (McCullagh) Reid, sister to Sarah (McCullagh) Whiteside, wife of William Reid.
 Likely one of the DICKIE solicitors in Dundalk who were related to the McCULLAGH family
 James McCULLAGH (?-1913)