Sunday, 5 November 2017

Well, Minnie: An Echo of Ireland

By Rose Morris

As part of Manchester Irish Festival 2017, MIW wrote and performed original and historical work for our event, ‘Echoes of Ireland.’ Voices from our past echo down to us through the years and the miles, inspiring us to pass that echo on. 

My Echo comes from a letter written by my grand uncle, Francis, to his sister Minnie in San Francisco in 1915.  

A copy of the letter was brought back to Tyrone by his niece in the 1980’s when she visited Ireland for the first time in search of her roots. His niece was able to tell us that her mother would never have read this letter as she died giving birth to herself on the 29th September 1915.

The letter was dated 19th September and taking into account the time it would have taken for surface mail in those days it would not have arrived until after her death.


Irish Craveny, Ballygawley, Tyrone
19th September 1915. 
Well Minnie, dear sister.
Just a few lines
hoping to find you in good health.
These lines leave us fine.

Well Minnie, I have watched this long time
for a letter from you.
We have got Johnny married,
so that’s a change here.
She’s Roseanne O’Neill.
a neighbour of Susan’s.
Only twenty years of age.
That’s young enough to marry.
We are quite happy with her.
It was with all of her wishes.
She is good to mother and father.
That’s a great comfort to us.
It makes it alright
and that’s best of all.

Well Minnie, I am the only one left now
and it’s hard to say how I am to pull through,
for marryings make great changes you know
and my home will soon be over there too.

That’s all at present.
Hoping to hear from you soon.
They all join in sending best wishes
To your husband and family.
Your loving brother,
Francis McCann

Uncle Francis never did get to America, he moved out of his home to leave Johnny and his new wife their own space, lived alone as a bachelor until my mother looked after him in his old age at our house where he died in 1956.

This letter echoes a hidden story of his hopes and dreams of joining the rest of his emigrated family members. He never realised this dream and we never knew of it until it echoed again in the 1980’s long after he had gone.
Words & Images © Rose Morris

Rose Morris was born near Dungannon, in Co. Tyrone. Having retired from a career in Art and Design Education in Greater Manchester she now spends more time pursuing her creative interests and involvement in community projects in Manchester and Tyrone.
She co-founded the Manchester Irish Writers group with Alrene Hughes in 1994 and reckons that her continued involvement and sharing within that group has greatly enhanced the development of her own writing. 
Her monologues have been performed at the Library Theatre and the Royal Exchange and her short stories and poetry have been published in the Manchester Irish Writers’ collections; The End of the Rodden, The Retting Dam, Stone of the Heart, Drawing Breath and Changing Skies.

Rose wrote “Well Minnie” for MIW's Manchester Irish Festival event, “Echoes of Ireland”, which was performed at the Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester in  March 2017.

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