Slightly discoloured with age but in good condition, the letter was sent from Dublin to Ennis on April 7, 1971.
Mary Kelly, who operates a stationery and card shop in O’Connell St, was rather surprised when a letter posted in Dublin 45 years ago dropped through Reidy, the former owner of the premises. Along with his wife, Agnes Henchy Reidy, he ran a newsagency business from the building. Mr Reidy died in 1977.
“The envelope was perfectly intact and the address was written in a nice fountain pen. The postal mark was April 7, 1971,” Mary said.
“I didn’t open it because there is a son of that man living in Celbridge. He said to me open it but I said he would have to open it. It felt like it could have been a relic or a 10 shilling note.”
Philip O’Ríada, who is currently abroad, urged Ms Kelly to open the letter, which had been sent to his father when Richard Nixon was US president. It contained Irish, Canadian, South African, and European stamps .
“Philip said he’ll work out who they were meant for and who they were coming from,” said Mary.
“He would only have been about 14 or 15 that time.
“He thought I was joking when I contacted him because the day that I got it was his son’s birthday. He thought it was something for Eoin but I told him it was addressed to his father.”
Mary’s postman has been speculating as to why it took so long for the letter to reach its final destination.
“It’s just incredible,” she said. “One of my postmen said to me that old offices would have had sorting offices with timber shelves, where letters would have been fired in. He said that very often a small envelope could slip down and it’s only when those offices are being stripped or demolished that the letter would be found.”
While a car journey from Dublin to Ennis takes two hours and 45 minutes, it took this letter an average of 109 days to complete a single mile of the 151-mile journey.
An Post was unable to shed any light on why the letter was 45 years late.