1 Killkelly, Ireland, eighteen and sixty, my dear and loving son John,
your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara
is so good to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England
The house is so empty and sad.
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
a third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Bridget and Patrick O'Donnell
are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
and be sure to come on home soon.
2 Killkelly, Ireland, eighteen and seventy, my dear and loving son John,
hello to your missus and to your four children,
may they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I suppose that he never will learn,
because of the dampness there's no turf to speak of
and now we have nothing to burn.
And Bridget is happy you named the child for her
although she's got six of her own.
You say you found work but you don't say what kind
or when you''ll be coming home.
3 Killkelly, Ireland, eighteen and eighty, dear MIchael and John my sons,
I'm sorry to give you the very sad news
that your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Killkelly
your brothers and Bridget were there.
You don't have to worry, she died very quickly
remember her in your prayers.
And it's so good to hear that Michael's returning
with money, he's sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people are selling
at any price that they can
4 Killkelly, Ireland, eighteen and ninety, my dear and loving son John,
I suppose that I must be close to eighty,
It's thirty years since you have gone.
Because of all of the money you sent me
I'm still living out of my own
Michael has built himself a fine house
and Bridget's daughters have grown.
And thank you for sending your family a picture
of the lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit;
what joy to see you again.
5 Killkelly, Ireland, eighteen and ninety-two, my dear brother John,
I' m sorry I didn't write sooner to tell you but father passed on.
He was living with Bridget, she says he was cheerfull
and healthy right down to the end.
Oh, you should have seen him playing with the grandchildren
of Pat McNamara your friend.
And we buried him alongside of the mother
down at the Killkelly church yard.
He was strong and a fine steel man
considering his life was so hard.
And it's funny that he kept talking about you,
He called for you at the end
Oh, why don't you think about coming to visit?
We'd all love to see you again.