What would Mabel think?

So I googled "Mabel Maguire, Esplanade Hotel, Queenstown." and searched through the results. One of which was an ebay listing for a postcard. I opened the page to discover that a seller had listed a postcard addressed to my great grandmother…

Sometimes I wonder what life as a mother was like in my grandmother's time or my great grandmother's time. I'm lucky enough to still have my maternal grandmother very much in my life but my paternal grandmother who I was also very close to, passed away over 10 years ago.  I didn't know my great grandmothers but nowadays its common enough for kids to know their great grandparents. How lucky are they?! I remember growing up being quite intrigued by my great grandmother on my dad's side, there was something about her, that drew me to her.  Her name was Mabel Maguire.

We had various things at home that my grandmother passed onto us. Some of the things had belonged her mother Mabel and some went as far back as Mabel's mother. Among the things were a beautiful crockery set, some jewellery and Mabel's writing box. The writing box contains letters, postcards and old documents belonging to Mabel and some to her father. There are the prettiest birthday cards, personal letters and greetings cards with messages addressed to Mabel. I can't say why exactly, but there's something really exciting about holding a piece of paper thats been beautifully written on, in old script. Especially when they were written to someone you long to know more about. I have read each item in the writing box many times, each time trying to piece together more of a picture of Mabel's life.

When I was expecting my second baby, I was 99% sure it was a boy and had a few boys names in my head. I didn't really have many girls names but Mabel was one I liked. As it turned out, our little dude arrived and he didn't look much like a Mabel!
Although we didn't use the name Mabel, my fascination with her continued. I didn't really know that much about her except that her parents with the help of Mabel, ran a hotel called the Esplanade Hotel in Cobh, which was then called Queenstown. An Esplanade is the same thing as a promenade it turns out!

Out of the blue one particular morning about a year ago, I randomly decided to "google" her. In the back of my head I thought it was a bit ridiculous because google was certainly not around in her time. So I wasn't expecting to find anything except maybe something on census records.

So I googled "Mabel Maguire, Esplanade Hotel, Queenstown." and searched through the results. One of which was an ebay listing for a postcard. I opened the page to discover that a seller had listed a postcard addressed to my great grandmother. I sat there in total disbelief. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't make out who it was from or what it said but I had to have it. It only cost a couple of euro but I'd probably have paid more I was so desperate to have it!

I was so excited when it arrived. I Just found it really amazing that I was holding something that was once sent to my great grandmother. And I had bought it on eBay. Not something that happens everyday. The postcard was from a Miss Lawless and was sent the 15th of April 1905. The majority of the postcard was written in pencil and some in a black ink pen. It's a simple message telling Mabel she's very mean for not writing more often! Eeek! Theres a bit of Mabel in me I think (hopeless at replying to texts!). She also comments on how pretty the postcard is. She then apologies for her scribbly handwriting and for the fact that she got caught in the rain which is evident from the smudged ink.

On the front of the post card is a portrait of Actress Ms. Brown Potter taken by a famous photographer at the time, Lallie Charles. When I opened Mabel's writing box after getting the postcard, I wanted to see if I could find anything in there that might also be from Miss Lawless and I found what was like today's version of a business card, with just her name on it: Miss E. M. Lawless. So no clue of who she was or how they knew each other but it must have been there for some reason.

I wanted to do a blog post about this story because I wasn't expecting to find anything like this online. And I know you might think it was by total chance but I actually found another postcard addressed to her last week. And although I had this blog post done, I decided to hold off publishing it until the postcard arrived. It was from a man called Horace Daniel and was sent in 1905 also. Horace gave his address in Plymouth on the postcard and just one other brief but amusing comment…"Do not think much of Dublin"!  When I googled his name and Plymouth, I found out that he would have been 19 at the time and served as a Lieutenant  in the Royal Navy reserve in World War I. I don't know who he was to Mabel but I'd love to know. He went on to win a medal for saving lives at sea and passed away at the young age of 32. He left a widow named Florence behind. I've definitely decided that at the age of 19, he must have been a love interest! The romantic in me is dying for a scandalous love story!

And all this from a notion to Google "Mabel Maguire". I'm so glad I did and I'll continue to do so. If she knew that so many years later that her great grand-daughter would be carefully looking through her writing box for clues and buying postcards (from the internet!!) that were once written to her. Not to mind looking up the people that sent them to her and finding out who they married and where they were buried. I actually saw a picture online of Horace's grave, which I'd say Mabel would have been a little freaked out about. Even I find it a little freaky to be honest! I love it though, the thought that she once held these postcards in her hands like I do now. It feels sort of magical and I just so hope I keep finding more puzzle pieces of Mabel's life.

The last item I want to mention actually brought tears to my eyes. I can't make out who it's from but it's definitely from a male admirer who I presume fell in love with Mabel at some point before she was married. However, she went on to marry my great grandfather, leaving this poor man's heart aching. It's a heartbreaking love poem. I don't know if he wrote it himself but I think he must have because I googled the words and didn't find any matches. I hope the poor man found happiness after Mabel and I hope he wrote lots more poetry as beautiful as this.

Mabel, you were some woman if a man wrote these words about you…

Perhaps tonight we part for life, forever strangers be.

The old love letters than you gave, I'll keep for memory.

And if by chance we meet some day, upon some distant clime,

I'll love you then because you were an old sweetheart of mine.

Deep sorrow now adorns your face, where once you wore a smile.

I know another won your heart? You're silent all the while.

The merry twinkle of your eye, no more for me will shine.

Yet I will always claim you as an old sweetheart of mine.

I'm still sitting here smiling (teary eyed and snotty nosed also from the poem) and wondering….Seriously though, if she could read all this,  what would Mabel think?


Gillian x

P.s. I'd love to know if anyone has similar stories like this! x

10 thoughts on “What would Mabel think?

    1. I love this story and the poem is so beautiful… Last year one of my work colleagues bought an old car and in the car was a folder of old letters… I took them for a read oh my god they were amazing, written to a lady in michelstown from a man who joined the army… But there was lots of ins and out in the letters and each of us that read them had a different take on them i believed he loved her others didn’t… But another colleague originally from michelstown took the letters to see could they be reunited with a family member… and i never found out after were they, you’ve just renewed my intrigue im going to have to find out what happened those letters… I totally understand your love for this kind of history… x

      Liked by 1 person

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