The McIlrath Letters – from New Zealand to Ireland


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The McIlrath letters to their family home near Balloo, Killinchy, from Australia and New Zealand over 55 years form the basis of a new book, published by the Killyleagh Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society.

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The book was launched on 8th December 2009, 149 years to the day after the McIlrath brothers set sail for a new life on the other side of the world.

The 64 letters, which make up the book, have been carefully preserved by the McIlrath family, the descendants of which still live in the house which James and Hamilton left behind. The book has been put together by John Bassett and this launch saw the culmination of 20 years of his dedication to the project. The letters chart the progress and achievements of the McIlrath brothers, as well as personal events, marriages, births, illness and deaths. The relaxed, familiar style gives these letters an immediacy not to be found in history books, bringing their lives and troubles very close to the reader despite the 150 year gap. The writers also make frequent reference to other emigrants from the local area whom they meet in their new home, passing on news and greetings, which makes the book a valuable resource for local historians and genealogists.[Book 8¼” x 8 ¼”, 144 pages]

Published by the Killyleagh and District Branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society.

The above book is also available from John Bassett – tele. 028 4482 8329.

Additional information

Weight 510 g
Dimensions 23 × 23 × 1.5 cm