Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Letters To / From USA

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Letter from Bridget Joyce, Bagenalstown,
to Hugh Coogan NYC

These particular letters were in the keeping of a grandson of William Coogan (1844-1927), youngest son of Mathew & Catharine Nolan Coogan of Ballyloughan. They are currently in the keeping of a professional genealogist who is a Coogan descendant. Catharine, about whom Bridget Joyce inquires in the letter, immigrated at age 70, lived until 1883 with her NYC immigrant children, and is interred in Old Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queens, where hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants rest. Her husband (1793-1860) is interred in Ballinkillen Cemetery alongside his mother, Bridget Byrne Coogan.

The following was sent in by Mary Coogan Gainmheach@aol.com

Here's a copy of a letter with news of home from Bridget Joyce, Bagenalstown, to Hugh Coogan, Harlem, NYC. Written across the top of the first page is

"Dear Hugh, write soon please. BRIDGET JOYCE."

Bagenalstown Post Office January 28, 1879

My Dear Cousin Hugh,

You must be somewhat astonished to receive a letter from the little child you left at home when you were going off [1867]--but my dear father has spoken about you all and about my uncles who have turned out so very cold that they never even wrote a line to him. But I hope dear Hugh that you will not forget to drop us a few lines as soon as you can and tell us how your poor mother is and how you all are, including my father's brothers. I wonder none of you ever wrote this long time. Poor MARGARET often speaks of you all. We are all living together still in a most comfortable house near the chapel. My father holds very stout still, the best father in all the world he is. Full of good nature and of CORRIES stories, he attends to the little garden and spends the day happily. My mother is failing fast. Margaret is housekeeping for us and is the life of the house. PATRICK is MR. WARD'S corn buyer and accountant, and I am with JAMES BYRNE TELEGRAPHIST for the past 6 years and half. So we are all very happy together, thank God. FATHER W. MAHER* came to see us Friday last. He is very well. MRS. MAHER** is not well lately. JOHN will soon be ordained priest, and PATRICK, the youngest, is in Kilkenny College. They are doing well at

BALLYLOUGHAN. MARGARET LALOR is married and has a young daughter. TOM & DAN are married in the same place, ABBEYLEIX. All are doing well. I will write you a long letter soon as I hear from you.

[Bridget wrote at least one other letter, dated March 29, 1880, to Hugh's brother William. Someone had sent her news from NY, including the death of her uncle WILLIAM JOYCE.]

Why I wrote Brother Declan [Michael Coogan, 1841-1904, at Mt. St. Joseph's Abbey in 1879] is for your address because my father would be so happy if he heard from you. I had a letter a few days ago from him [Br. Declan].

I shall keep you no longer now, only to ask you to give our best love to all friends but especially to your dear mother [Catharine Nolan Coogan, 1798-1883], self, and Willie.

Your most affectionate cousin, B. Joyce


--Bridget's 1880 letter indicates that one of her NYC immigrant uncles was REDDY JOYCE, referred to in an 1863 NYC-to-Illinois letter as working on 10th Avenue in Manhattan as a conductor and in contact with his Coogan immigrant cousins. Another of her Joyce uncles was William, who died later in 1879 or early in 1880 and left a second wife and children, according to Bridget's 1880 letter.

--Also from Bridget's 1880 letter: **Mrs. Maher was probably the wife of EDWARD (NED) MAHER of BALLYLOUGHAN; they had several children. *FATHER WILLIAM MAHER was stationed in PHILIPSTOWN in 1880.

--A letter of August 7, 1877 from Brother Declan to his brother Mathew in NYC states "I hear frequently from Bridget Joyce of Bagenalstown, They were all well the last time I heard from them" .

--St. Andrew's RC Church, Bagenalstown, has a record of the baptism of twin boys, Michael and Patrick Joyce, on Feb. 21, 1825. Sponsors: Mary Byrne & Mary Walsh. Parents: MICHAEL JOYCE and MARGARET COOGAN. Joyce family members listed as sponsors for Coogan baptisms include Mary Joyce (1827), Daniel Joice (1830), and William Joyce (1844). Also sponsors: Michael Maher (1871) and 'Edward Mather/Maher (1841).

I would like to know whether MARGARET, referred to in the letter above, was Margaret Coogan Joyce, and I'd certainly like to find out who Bridget Joyce's parents were. Does anyone have info about anyone mentioned in this letter?

From another family letter written probably in 1868 by the last of the clan (except for one brother, a monk) still in Ireland to a brother who had immigrated to NYC & Iowa, the passages below contain references to some Co. Carlow neighbors and relatives, and local conditions. I've capitalized names, placed question marks where the handwriting has faded, and added explanations [in brackets]. Anyone who would like a .jpg file of the complete scanned letter should contact me. I''ve omitted some sections. If you have info about anyone mentioned below, please post it or send it to me. If you find material such as
this useful, please let me know--there are also some letters that send news from NYC of immigrants from Co. Carlow, especially Joyce, Nolan, and Byrne families.
August 10th
My ever dear Brother,
With gladness I answer your welcome letter that afforded me more comfort than I could tell.
. . . . .
We had a very warm time of it here since we had no rain during the summer but three showers up to this time and that made hay very dear. It is from 50 shillings to 5 pounds per ton. You may let Hugh know heifers was very dear last May and is expected to be full as cheap next November from the way hay sits.
We got none from Mr.? WATSON this year. We just got from JOHN EVANS what will do. What little we have you may be sure we think every moment and hour until we get away, as farmers try every plan to do without employing him. Potatoes
appears very good too. Today mowers went from 4 to 5 shillings a ____ and binders 2.6 shillings with diet? and 3.6 without diet so again the harvest is secured. Farmers won't trouble the smith if they can help it. [Margaret's husband was a blacksmith.]
We have six or seven heifers and a cow and some pigs, but then their expenses leave very little, and whatever the farmer takes from him he gives him very little.
MRS. BYRNE wishes me to excuse her in not answering your letter sooner. She thought to do so different times and something kept her back. His own health was bad and she wished to have to account of him being better before she would write.
He is a great deal better, but the poor woman met with a long and great trouble it pleased God to visit them with [Scarletina?]. THOMAS was the first and before the him? What it was was the Mater with him. God took him to himself. The Lord be merciful to his soul. BRIDGET and FRANK then took it. Doctor Omar? was sent for a long struggle with the best attendance. He brought them out of it. The rest was sent away. All is well now. There never was more sudden deaths to our remembrance than this last year.
MRS. MURPHY OF SCALP was at her tea in perfect health and fell dead and never drew the second breath, and Mr. JAMES KELLY OF SESKINRYAN died in like manner.
Both were a great loss to their children. And poor JOHN CAUFIELD of KNOCKLINAGEN got an untimely death. He was got [found] drowned in the Barrow at three weeks' end and the whole place searched as far as the sea would allow them.
MRS. BRYAN was very troubled. She wishes to be remembered to you all in the kindest manner.
LAWRENCE BRYAN TAYLOR and family sends you their kindest regards. All your old neighbors in Ballyloughan are well and desire to be remembered to you all.
FERDINAND? NOLAN of AUGHABEAG, now in Bagenalstown, sends his love to you.
Please tell the JOYCES they ought to look to their mother. I understand she is in a bad way and has but little understanding to know. And ___ Dan can do very little for her since Margret is out of employment. They are very ungrateful to them in America. You never mentioned to me how the KELLEYS were doing. There are some bad accounts about them, whether it be true or not. I give my love to Brother Denis in the kindest manner and I hope he gathered a great deal of sense since he left the old country. Also remember me to Patrick and daughter in the kindest manner and poor sister Bridget [& Lawrence
MEANY] and family, remember me kindly to them all. Tell Mary MEANY and my mother [Catharine NOLAN COOGAN, immigrated 1867] that my spirits are not sunk so low as to make me despair of ever seeing them. It is my constant wish and I hope it will be accomplished.
. . . .
All your old neighbors wish to be remembered to you kindly and pray for you a great deal. Mr.? / Wm? BYRNE came home from the sea. I think he is better. That family sends their love to you. We had a little son the very day [of] your leaving here, a very fine child as ever we had. We took the liberty of getting him called after you. Believe me William, to part with you leaned very heavy on me. If not for the prayers you offered and got offered for me I could not be well so soon. I am just getting strong, thank God. James [DOYLE] wishes me to let Hugh know something regarding the Country. We had a very warm summer and left the potatoes very little value from a second growth come on them. Hay got very dear and put the prices of cattle about very much and then when winter set in, it commenced with rain and never got much fine until now. It is just clearing now. Notwithstanding all that, we are well provided in hay, potatoes, turf and all necessaries for our family, thank God. All I ask from you at this time is to write to me in due time. Tell ___ ? the children all gives me their kindest and dearest love and wishes to be remembered to their grandmother and Mary Meany.
I conclude my dearest brother by wishing you all a happy New Year and remain until death your loving and obedient sister
Margret Doyle--------

The sentence that follows is from a preserved letter written in late 1867 or sometime in 1868 from Ireland to her mother in NYC by Margaret Coogan Doyle (b. 1827 in Ballyloughan; married James Doyle, Carrickbeag; immigrated with husband and children to NYC 1869):

Darby Nolan of Curenree and Catherine Clony was married the other day.

Source: Carloman. c2005

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