IT MAY have been slightly scorched over the years but a letter to Santa written 100 years ago, which was later discovered in a Dublin fireplace, has the magic of Christmas written all over it.
On Christmas Eve 1911, a brother and sister, who signed their names, “A or H Howard”, penned their personally designed letter to Santa with their requests for gifts and a good luck message at their home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure (or Terurnure, as the children spelled it) in Dublin.
They placed it in the chimney of the fireplace in the front bedroom so that Santa would see it as he made his way into the Howard household in the early hours of the morning.
The letter was discovered by the house’s current occupant, John Byrne, when he was installing central heating in 1992. Since then, he has retained it as a souvenir of another time and place but with the stamp of childhood innocence which still exists today. The message to Santa was warm but explicit.
“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”
Ownership of the house changed over the decades, with the Byrne family moving there in 1961, but the letter survived. “At that time, the fireplaces were made of brick with a shelf on either side,” said John Byrne who works in the building industry.
“The letter was found on one of the shelves.” The letter remained remarkably intact given the passage of time and was only slightly burned from fires set in the house over the years.
As well as the requests for gifts from Santa the letter also contains drawings and a message of “Good Luck” to Santa from the children. According to the 1911 census there were three children living at the address in the year in which the letter was written.
The youngest of them, Hannah, who was 10 at the time, and Fred (presumably short for Alfred) who was seven, fit in with the initials on the letter. A third child, a 13-year-old called Lily, is also listed. The Howard family were all born in England, including parents Fred Hamer Howard, an “under manager” in a plumber merchants, and his wife Mary Elizabeth. They listed their religion as Church of Ireland.