\"Hannah

Hannah Howard and the letter was written by the Howard family siblings to Father Christmas in 1911. Photo by: The Irish Times/Eric Luke c/o The Irish Times

Man recognizes Santa letter writer 100 years ago as his mother

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Hannah Howard and the letter was written by the Howard family siblings to Father Christmas in 1911. Photo by: The Irish Times/Eric Luke c/o The Irish Times

A County Down man has revealed his Christmas surprise with the publication of a one hundred-year-old letter to Santa – written by his late mother.

Victor Bartlem didn’t realise the significance of the tale at first when his wife read out details of the Irish Times story on Wednesday.

The paper reported how Terenure resident John Byrne discovered the 1911 letter to Santa from brother and sister A and H Howard in a shelf behind a chimney at his home.

The letter, slightly scorched after a hundred years up a chimney, was written on Christmas Eve by 10-year-old Hannah, known as Annie, and her brother Alfred.

Bangor resident Victor didn’t make the connection with his late mother Annie at first, not even when his wife referred to the address of former family home in Dublin.

It was only when Hannah’s name was mentioned that Victor realised his mother’s role in the fascinating story.

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“I simply couldn’t believe it. I never knew about this letter. I never even knew it existed,” Victor told the Irish Times.
 
The letter, which captured the spirit of Christmas past, included a present wish list and a good luck message to Santa.

“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee,” wrote Hannah, born on Christmas Day 1900.

“My mother attended the Zion Church of Ireland school in Rathgar before going on to marry Alfred Bartlem in 1931, with whom she had two sons, Howard and Victor. She and Alfred moved to a house on Lomond Avenue, Fairview, shortly after they married, where she died in 1978,” reported Victor.

He added that his mother had been extremely creative, excelling at various forms of needlework and later at woodwork and was also an expert baker of cakes and other confectionery.

Niece Iris Murphy, who lives in Dublin, also contacted the paper after she was alerted to her aunt’s story when her daughter in Tasmania read about it on irishtimes.com.

“My aunt was a very happy-go-lucky person with a great sense of humour,” said Iris.

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