Time Capsule – Absent Without Leave

This verbatim transcribed treasure, from the family archive, was written by my great-uncle Michael to his sister Annie (my paternal grandmother) who in 1909 lived in Arbour Place, Stoney Batter; an Urban Village on Dublin’s North Side in close proximity to the well known Dublin landmark: the Phoenix Park.

The original hand written copy of this letter, together with a number of other priceless paper artefacts somehow managed, stored in an old tobacco tin, to survive the 103 year journey and arrive safely into my generation (see picture).

For some reason Private Breen had retained a transcribed copy of Part 2, of Battalion Orders No: 64 for the 2nd Border Regiment which had been stationed in Pretoria, South Africa during 1907. This Battalion Orders sheet, gives some insight into what life may have been like for the twenty three service men whose names appear on the sheet. More about this in subsequent posts…

Here is a fragment from the life of Private.M.Breen:

8752 Private – M.F.Breen,
2nd Border Regiment,
C/O Main Guard,
Renmore Barracks,
Thursday 11th December 1909

Dear Sister,

Just a line hoping it finds yourself, Phil and the children in the best of health, as it leaves me at present.

I am still waiting with the Battalion Guard, to be tried. I expect to be tried by the end of the week; but I am not sure.

How is little Me-hall, Annie and young Charlie?  I hope they are all quite well.

I am going on fine here, while I am waiting. I want my freedom; that is all. You see, I am confined to Barracks; that means I can’t go out.  So, I can’t tell you what the town of Galway is like; but I do be down on the beach working. Straight across the coast can be seen the Connemara mountains.

It’s been raining here ever since I came back here; wet and stormy and terribly cold here at nights.

Tell Phil I will not forget him; the very first weeks pay I get. My pals are very good here. They bring me over a smoke very often; so that’s one good job. Aint it?

I am sorry to tell you that one of our poor fellows was accidentally shot dead on detachment. I think it was at Ballinrobe, but I am not sure. Word has just come to the Guard Room to-night. It’s in all the papers; so I expect you will have seen it in Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s papers.

Well, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and bright New Year. I hope I am still waiting on Christmas day so as I can get a good time with the Guard.

There are twelve of us awaiting trial altogether, and all for absence.

I must close once more, with love and best wishes from your loving and affectionate brother Michael.

Kind regards to Phil and Kathleen.


If you see Peate, tell him I was asking for him and also write soon like a dear. So long.


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About dubmantalks

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