Profile: Joyce Timms

Joyce Timms

Joyce Timms added a family letter to the Letters of 1916 collection. Joyce told us why she got involved with the project.

Nellie May Preston, courtesy of Joyce Timms
Nellie May Preston, courtesy of Joyce Timms

I collaborated with the Letters of 1916 project because I have a letter which was kept carefully by my grandfather and thereafter my mother, as it contained my grandmother’s personal account of this historic time in Ireland. My grandmother would have written almost daily to my grandfather while he was away in France serving in WW1, but this was the only letter which was kept. I think history told through personal experience becomes much more alive and relevant when it speaks of the impact on the individual, no matter how slight that might be. Clearly Nellie (pictured below) was very frightened by what was happening although not ‘on the spot’ in central Dublin, and a bullet whizzing through a pantry window while she and Bert’s sister sat in the suburban garden of the Woodman family was not an experience she had expected to encounter. She worked in Elvery’s on Sackville Street, and it is interesting to read her account of going in to work after all was over and beginning to help clear up.

courtesy of Joyce Timms

I think Letters of 1916 is exciting because it adds to the fund of knowledge we have of that time and maybe ’rounds out’ the picture.  My family were middle-class Protestants and lived in the suburbs and thus Nellie’s letter gives a little perspective on how that world was affected. The project contributes a social dimension to what might otherwise be a dry recounting of battles, actions, destruction and of course politics.

to read Nellie’s letter to Bert, click here.

To find out more about Joyce’s family, check out the Maynooth University MA in Digital Humanities project site ’Woodman War Diaries’.

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