You’ve Got Mail!

TCD MS 2327

TCD MS 2327 is a collection of 279 personal letters between John D’Alton and his wife Catherine D’Alton (née Phillips, d. 1 February 1859), spanning almost forty years. John D’Alton (1792-1867), antiquarian and barrister, was born County Meath. He obtained a BA from Trinity College Dublin in Spring 1811, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1813. Because of the nature of D’Alton’s work as an assize lawyer, he was obliged to be away from his family for significant periods of time and, with much encouragement from his beloved wife, wrote numerous letters chronicling his day-to-day activities. In a witty style, and an almost illegible hand, he writes of places he has visited, gives humorous descriptions of characters he encounters and speaks of his sadness at being away from his family. John and Catherine D’Alton had six children. Catherine D’Alton’s letters are filled with news from home, the progress of their children and worries regarding the health of the family, their finances, her efforts at keeping track of his whereabouts and the vagaries of the postal service, local gossip and scandal, her distress at their frequent separation, as well as coded and intimate expressions of love. Occasionally, and on instruction from her husband, Catherine also played an active rôle in her husband’s business affairs. Her letters advise, soothe and cajole her husband, and often berate him for his lack of promised letters. Many of the letters are cross written, a money-saving strategy whereby the text is written horizontally and vertically on the same page.

Aisling Lockhart