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Title: McIlrath, Eliza Jane (Jennie) to McIlrath, Sarah, 1908
CollectionThe McIlrath Letters_A family history in letters from New Zealand to Ireland (1860-1915) [Bassett, McKee et al.]
SenderMcIlrath, Eliza Jane (Jennie)
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSpringfield, New Zealand
DestinationKillinchy, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
RecipientMcIlrath, Sarah
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count796
Genregifts, wedding, engagements, family, fires, weather, social events
TranscriptThorndale, Springfield
January 25th 1908

Dear Sarah
Your lovely present came as a great surprise to me, also Minnies to
Emy. I do not know which is the more lovelier of the two. They are
both beautiful. I appreciate them all the more coming from Ireland.
The sideboard cloth is too large for our sideboard, so I am putting it
away until I get one to fit it. I have already been promised a sideboard
when I get married and one that the cloth will fit too. Emy is putting
hers away. Everybody admires them. They think both of you must be
very patient to work them so nicely. The table centre is pen painted is
it not? When they were forwarded on to us, it just said from Cousin
Sarah and Minnie. I guessed they would be from you, as we have
no cousin named Sarah in New Zealand. To make sure I wrote to
Lakeside and enquired who sent them.
You must go in a lot for fancy work. I do very little of it, but Emy
does a lot. She is doing a lot of things for my sister Edith. Edith is
engaged to be married to a Mr. Syd. Gillett. He is a neighbour of
ours and a farmer. He is 31 years of age and is very nice. Edith is
the fourth girl. Jim my third brother is engaged to a Miss Olsen.
She lives in Kumara 110 miles from here. Jim teaches school at the
Christchurch Training College. He gets £300 a year. He is an M.A.
and also L.L.B. He is thinking of giving up teaching and becoming
a lawyer. The other boys work at home. We have two farms, and
we girls are all at home. We are just in the middle of harvest now.
We have two reapers and binders going. The weather is terribly dry.
Everybody is afraid of big fires starting. Last harvest was very dry too
and a big bush fire started a few miles away from our other farm. The smoke was so dense and hot that the boys had to knock off reaping.
The ash came in thick to the house. It burned hundreds of acres of
bush. Thousands of sheep got burnt, also peoples houses. Had it
crossed the river it would have burnt us clean out. In fact it would
have gone right to Christchurch 40 miles distant. There would have
been nothing to stop it, but plenty of ripe crops, dead gorse, dry grass,
broom etc. to encourage it. One night our boys with several others
stayed at the river putting out live embers that blew across. Several
times it nearly got the best of them.
This year a most disastrous fire occured about 20 miles away from
us. It was a grass fire. It burnt 8 different people out. All their feed,
sheep and even horses being burnt. Altogether it burnt over 3000
acres of grass. The fire travelled at the rate of 60 miles an hour, and
the flames leaped over 6 ft. high. It had been a station and last year
had been broken up and sold. They were all new settlers on it One
young fellow we knew. All his grass was burned and 700 sheep and 3
horses. The people around here are starting a subscription for him.
There are fires over nearly all New Zealand. It is not safe for anyone
to drop a match. Two days our thermometer was 100° in the shade
and several days it is 92°. Today is very cool and raining slightly. Our
crops are very good, the wheat especially. We got a good deal of rain
in the Spring. I suppose you are having winter now. I hate winter.
We had a great exhibition last year. All the world sent exhibits to
it. It lasted six months. I went down several times to see it. It looked
lovely at night time. The Royal "Besses 0' the Barn" band played at it. They also played one night at Springfield. They were lovely. We all
went to hear them at Springfield. They charged 5s/ each admission.
The hall was not half large enough for the crowd who wanted to hear
them. They are supposed to be the best band in England. I heard
them 3 times altogether.
Do you collect postcards? I do. I would like if you would
exchange with me. I have got some nice ones.
Father and Mother are in the best of health and so are we all.
I hope you are all enjoying good health. Give my kind regards
to all at home. Again thanking you and Minnie for nice
presents and heaps of love. I remain your affectionate cousin
Jennie McIlrath. Write soon.