Postcards from another time

Communication moves at a rapid pace in 2016. Social media allows us to communicate with anyone in the entire world. We can Skype family in Australia, send our friends or family text messages to let them know we got home safely. Even the idea of picking up a phone and calling someone to deliver some important family news is taken as the norm.

It it wasn’t necessarily the case at the dawn of the last century,  before the widespread availability of telephones. We’ve been sent a few amazing examples of postcards, sent from or to Athboy, in the early 20th century that read almost like the kind of thing you might send over WhattsApp today.

All of the postcards were donated to us by Phyllis O’Connor and are addressed to her grandmother Agnes (seen below in in her wedding photograph).

Andrew and Agnes Perry
Andrew and Agnes Perry


The first postcard is stamped  from 1916. On the front is a photograph of Killua Castle. Just in case you thought it was just a really good drawing of Killua Castle, the bottom right hand corner contains the words “This is a real photo” – just so you know!


Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
The box in the lower right hand corner reads “This is a genuine photo”.



On the reverse we get a message confirming that previous post cards have been received!

Poscard Back 2
“I got your letter today…”

Dear A

Just a PC to say I got your letter today
Tuesday also his PC and letter on Friday and novena and
will write to you Thursday

M. O’Connell

Our next one, while the message seems to have faded away, is quite an interesting one because, well have a look:


Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
“Twas Saint Patrick himself sure that set it”


Yes! This postcard from March 1916 had an actual “Packet of REAL SHAMROCK SEED” attached to it. We can assure you the seeds are still inside it. Although I doubt you would be able to plant them at this stage.

Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
The message on the card has faded with time.

These postcards weren’t just used for short communication of and acknowledgements either. The next card from 1916 was, sadly, the bearer of some bad news.

Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
This postcard depicts the Montpelier Spa in Cheltenham.


On the reverse it contains a short notice about someone passing away.

Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
“Just a quick PC to say that Ned is dead…”


Just a PC to say  that Ned is dead
he will be buried on Sunday
will write all in a few days

The final postcard shows a unique view of Athboy’s long defunct railway station.

Postcard Front 4
A view of the platform, turntable and railway line of Athboy Railway Station.

On the reverse, a simple message to see if Agnes got home alright! (And a hint she possibly had a stamp collection?)

Credit: Phyllis O'Connor
“Take off the stamp.”

Dear Agnes,
Hoping you got home all right on Sunday Night.
Cheap lodgings. Take of(f) the stamp.

We often think about people 100 years ago as living lives utterly alien to our own. Sure, technology and pace of communication is far different from what we have today. But the things we communicated about haven’t changed that much.


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