HERITAGE group members Pauline Connolly and Margaret Marlow with Micheál McHugh with an original envelope and letter that date back to the 19th century. Photos: Ray Ryan

Letters lost in time

Two collections, some pre-Famine, give remarkable insight into Milltown’s past

MICHEÁL Hughes is “dumbfounded” at he looks over displays featuring some 120 letters that tell the stories of his relatives who kept in touch with their family in Milltown as they each made new lives in Australia and America over more than a century.

The treasures were discovered crumpled and squished in a rusty biscuit box that had been transferred from the family home in the 1950s. Astoundingly, while Michael was aware there were some letters in the box, despite storing it in a safe place in his new home that was built in 1955, he never opened it until 1992!

The McHugh family letters date from 1878 to 1994 and give first-hand accounts of the mass emigration that Ireland experienced in the 19th century. The letters are one of two collections of letters that Milltown Heritage Society have been collating and working on and which were showcased over the weekend as part of Heritage Week.