In this four page letter, Helen Duffin is writing to her sister Celia who is ill and who cannot be with the family for Christmas. Helen tells Celia about an "odd" incident she had with an unexpected visitor to her office: a little man with a "pale face" and a "fuz of red hair" who is looking for some contributions to a poetry book for which Lavery (possibly John Lavery, the painter) is also providing a drawing. The man has requested that Celia provide a poem for the volume and their sister Ruth is also sending him one. At the end of the letter Helen encloses a humorous sketch.

Helen (b.1891) and Celia Duffin (b. 1888) are two of the Adam and Maria Duffin's nine children. At the age of sixteen, all seven Duffin girls attended Cheltenham Ladies College in Gloucestershire, England.

Celia Duffin along with her sister Ruth published a book of poems titled "Escape Poem" (illustrated by their sister Emma Duffin) and published by Maunsell & Co. Ltd in 1913.

This letter is part of a rich correspondence between various members of the Duffin family, a large prosperous family living in Strandtown, Belfast. Several family members served in the war, including Major Terence Duffin, who served as a staff officer with 107 Brigade, and later with Royal Irish Rifles; Major Charles G Duffin MC, Royal Field Artillery; and their sisters Emma, Celia and Dorothy who served as Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADS) in Egypt and France, and with the YMCA.


  • Art and Literature
  • Family Life
  • World War 1: 1914-1918


Institution: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
Collection: Duffin Papers D2109/9/4/C, Duffin Papers D2109/9/4/C

Citation & Contributors

Helen Duffin. "Letter from Helen Duffin to Celia Duffin, 22 December 1915". Letters of 1916. Schreibman, Susan, Ed. Maynooth University: 2016. Website.

The following people contributed to this letter:

  • Lainey
  • Tomforan
  • Carolniceochaigh
  • Natalielewendon
  • IreneH
  • Simona1
  • Rosie17
  • JennyMck
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From: Helen Duffin
To: Celia Duffin
Date Sent: 22 December 1915

Subject: Letter from Helen Duffin to Celia Duffin, 22 December 1915
My dear Celia,

It is folly to wish you a Merry Christmas if you are going to spend it in bed, but I don't want only to wish you a 'comfortable' Christmas! I wish you could walk home for a few days.

This morning in the office I was so amused — the office boy walked in and asked if I would see Mr.Gregory, the architect. I could not think who he was at first, but said I would see him & then the oddest little man walked in & introduced himself as 'Padraig Gregory' from the office opposite! He has a little pale face & has a fuz of red hair — do you know his look? He asked if I were Ruth or Edith & I denied being either & then he went on to explain that he was editing a volume of poetry for the St Hospital (St. Dunstans) for blind soldiers & wanted you to contribute. All the best Ulster people are to be represented & and Lavery is doing a drawing. Ruth says she will send him 'something'. I had not time to read 'The dog Collection', but it looked very fine. You are getting quite famous. We feel quite a crowd now & Ruth comes to-morrow. Poor D is very depressed. I am so glad you have got a nice girl in your room. We had a letter from Harry to-day (enclosed) — please return to us.

Good Luck old thing,