Letters offer glimpse of 18th century Ireland, France

Some of the 125 previously unopened letters written by Irish residents living in the Bordeaux region of France during the Seven Years War are now on display at New York University’s Bobst Library.

The letters were discovered two years ago by NYU professor Thomas M. Truxes, and most have been opened and reproduced in a companion book“The Bordeaux-Dublin Letters, 1757 Correspondence of an Irish Community Abroad,” Edited by L. M. Cullen, John Shovlin, and Truxes.

One of the unopened letters from 1757.

One of the unopened letters from 1757.

In a release, NYU says:

The themes are universal: There are students asking their parents for money, and fathers chastising their children for being disobedient or lazy. There are love letters, letters filled with petty gossip, and letters expressing the frustrations of Irish prisoners of war languishing in French jails.

The Bordeaux-Dublin Letters “reinforce a common humanity across time — the people we see in these letters are no different from people we know today . . . so once you get beyond the handwriting, 250 years just melts away,” remarks Truxes, clinical associate professor of Irish studies and history, who was researching overseas trade in colonial America when he made his fortuitous archival discovery.

The exhibition runs through April 1.

Thanks to J. McConnell for bringing this item to my attention, MH.