Letter Received 16 Years After Being Sent Leads to Family Reunion
What would you think if it took 16 years for a letter to be delivered to its intended recipient?
Jean Andrews sent a letter to relatives in Australia in 1995. Sixteen years later, she received a reply.
In 1938, Jeans Andrews’ uncle, William Joseph, and her three cousins, Joe, Jackie and Jim, left Lisburn after her aunt had passed. Jean wrote to Joe in 1995 and thought she had lost contact when she did not get a reply.
Out of the blue, Jean received a reply from Joe’s son Tony 16 years after she wrote the letter. The letter was sent first to one of Joe’s old addresses and then to the Dead Letter Office. And after 16 years the office tracked down the recipient and delivered the letter.
Tony wrote in his letter that he and his family were avid genealogy researchers and he had planned to tour the world to re-connect with his family tree. He was amazed to find out that he had family in Ireland.
“It’s a very pleasant surprise” he said.
Tony lives in Cheltenham, Victoria, close to his father. James lives in New South Wales. After receiving the letter, Tony scheduled the trip to Northern Ireland to meet Jean first before visiting other family members around the world.
Tony and ten members of his family took the trip to Lisburn to unite with Jean and her family. While there, Tony visited his father’s old home and enjoyed a dinner with his new family at CJ’s restaurant.
Jean was astonished to receive Tony’s reply after so many years.
“I had the address and had written many times,” Jean said. “I thought I would take a chance and try again because my mother was always at me to write, but I never heard another thing about it. So when I got the letter back after so long I was amazed.”
People are asking Jean what she wrote in the letter but after so many years Jean cannot remember.
Jean’s brother Richard explained how he and Joe used to play together in the Low Road area. He is planning on taking the guests to see the old mill houses.
“They’ll get a shock when they see the old mill houses compared to the big swimming pools they have out in Australia,” he said.
Jean thought the reunion went very well and she enjoyed meeting her relatives. She was happy to know that Joe and James had not passed since she had wondered for so many years.
According to Jean, it was an emotional time as well for Tony, especially since he was unaware of any relatives living in Lisburn. He said he was happy to meet everyone.
Jean kindly offered Tony a gold bracelet given to her by her mother.
“It belonged to Tony’s grandmother, so I gave it back to him,” she said.
Jean said she is sure Tony and his family will come back to visit. For now they are keeping in touch online.
“It was such a good night, CJ’s did a fantastic buffet; we didn’t come out till closing,” Jean said. It really was lovely to meet up with them and just to have them here.”