Letters of tragic Carrigaline couple shed light on the Ireland of 1915

June 18th, 2016 5:15 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A NEW book by Belgooly native James Gleasure offers a compelling first-hand account of rural life in Cork just after the outbreak of World War I.

The former Glasgow University lecturer has just had A 1915 Carrigaline Correspondence: David Busteed and Lilian Daunt published by ShieldCrest. 

On his mother’s death in 2007, James came into the possession of a series of letters from the couple – both related to his mother – who had just become engaged to be married (sadly, Lilian would die soon after they married, not long after giving birth to a son).

Life then was arduous by modern standards, but was not without its lighter moments.  While the comings and goings of the two letter-writers may not be typical of the time, they provide a window into the lives of their respective families who were closely related and occupied farms just a few miles from each other.  

‘When I first read the letters I was gripped and moved by just how much their private words shed vital light on the era in which they lived,’ explained the author. ‘I instantly saw that they had huge value for our collective understanding of life during World War I, so decided they needed to be made public. That’s exactly what this book is – their unedited correspondence that writes a story no historian or documentary ever could.

‘They show a mature attitude to life in general, both parties also displaying strong religious views, even to the extent of a kind of fatalism which may have been normal at the time of World War I,’ he added.

‘It must be of importance to learn how people felt at the time, and given that the content of the letters was not intended for others’ eyes, the ideas and feelings expressed must surely be genuine.

‘There is of course tragedy – but this isn’t Hollywood; it’s the raw and frank narrative of life in Ireland at a pivotal time in its history. I’m so proud to be the person sharing it with the world.’

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