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One of the 77 letters found in the bog in Ireland. NEWS: TJ has been home with Minnie elsewhere; James McCULLAGH still not well; issues with REID & McCULLAGH over lands and rent; Sam BRADFORD fleeing naked; Cavananore issue; trouble in Ireland, but not South Armagh; improvement in bank fortunes since TJ took over from GRIEG.
Sharon Oddie Brown. October 5, 2006
Updated March 3, 2010. Footnote corrections

Urker June 1 1881

My dearest Son


            I received yours of the 14th April. you were bird alone at that time in the big house. I hope you are not bird alone now, but that the “[?] bug” and the dear little “[p??theen]” are all about you. Dear dear Minnie [1] . I cannot make you sensible how I love her for her attention to me. If she had a thousand a year to expect from me; she could not be more attentive in writing to me; which shows the goodness of her heart and her sense of duty. May the good God grant that every child He has sent you may be to you as great a comfort as you have been to me and that every son-in-law of daughter-in-law that Minnie may have; may be to her as dutiful and as well beloved as she has been; and not to me only; the poor old Governor [2] thinks just as much of her as I do. I can wish neither of you any thing now except Heaven.


            I never had less news to write but no news is good news. All my family and connections are well except poor James McCullagh [3] ; who will never be better in this life. That family are better off in circumstances than they have been. Some friends have assisted them; so that I think they do not require any thing more, at least at present. I believe I was the first to think of them; as your Father said, I heaped coals of fire [4] on them; which set a good example to other. It was followed, I fear more from chance than good nature.


            Another invalid is Mary Reid [5] . Perhaps it is number ten that is coming. I do not know; for I have not seen her for above five years. So disgusted was I with her vindication of her infamous old Father [6] that I never went near her since. More & more of his evil deeds have come to light since his death. Our “solvent tenant [7] ” is beginning to be a little slack in paying his rent. I jogged Mr Reid’s [8] memory this day about it. Did I write you that Sam [9] endeavoured to sleep a night in Cavananore [10] , and had to fly out of it before evening? He fled actually naked; durst not venture back for his clothes; but had to send a man for them. The poor old Perpetual [11] was doting for long before he died. In his lucid moments, he was sorry enough for the offence he gave us; but he never had sense enough to come & ask pardon. If he had done so I would have forgiven him.


            Mary [12] is at present on a visit to Johnny [13] at Brackagh [14] . She likes the place. I cannot say when she will be home. I suppose you see Irish or English newspapers; and if you do you will see bad accts of Ireland; but no trouble has come near this neighbourhood for so far.


            Dear Tom what a blessing it is that you are happy. You put me in mind of the man spoken of in the 1st Psalm “And all he doth shall prosper well”. I was looking over one of the old Bank reports when Mr Greig [15] was Manager; a few days ago and what a contrast to the later reports! “What hath God wrought”, is all I can say. Oh, remember Him, and serve Him with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind.


            A thousand loves and blessings to you, dear Minnie and the children from your ever affectionate Mother,

[1] “Minnie” Amelia Lydia DARE – wife of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[2] David JACKSON – father of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[3] James McCULLAGH I suspect this James McCULLAGH might be. possibly the son of James McCULLAGH & Eliza WALLACE. He died in 1892 at Drummuck Cottage.

[4] 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.

[5] Mary (McCULLAGH) REID ( 1840-1919) wife of Rev William REID (1829-1906) who was likely pregnant with Margaret Annas REID (b. October 14, 1881) at Ednafirkin, Tullycorbett, Co. Monaghan. This may have been either her 10th or 12th child (there are two earlier births that I am now unsure of). She herself was a daughter of Thomas McCULLAGH (1793-1877) and Sarah McCULLAGH (1816-1857)

[6] Thomas McCULLAGH (1793-1877) of Derrivally, Co. Monaghan. Family lore describes him as “being so crooked, if he swallowed a nail it would come out a corkscrew”. I don’t know if this is true. There may be another side to it, but there are also tales in The Breakey Memoirs which seem to corroborate a McCULLAGH who played fast and loose with the law when it came to land. Given the mand controversies between the two families, it should also be noted that Eliza OLIVER and David JACKSON were actually married there.

[7] I suspect that the “solvent tenant”was Samuel BRADFORD (1846-1915)

[8] Rev William REID (1829-1906), husband of Mary McCULLAGH.

[9] Samuel BRADFORD (1846-1915)

[10] Cavananore, Co. Louth – land that BRADFORDs came to after the death of Mary OLIVER, I believe.

[11 Thomas McCULLAGH (1793-1877)..

[12] Mary (JACKSON) MENARY sister of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[13] John JACKSON, older brother of Sir Thomas JACKSON

[14] Brackagh, Co. Tyrone, where John JACKSON had a farm.

[15] In 1875, during James GREIG’s tenure, the HSBC bank was in crisis and unable to pay a dividend. It is accepted that his leadership was uninspired, to say the least.



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