Irish Fireside Pen Pal Project FAQ


What is the Irish Fireside Pen Pal Project?

It’s a little experiment designed to connect the Irish Fireside online community to each other through written correspondence.

Is the a charge?

No. There is no fee to participate. However, you must provide your own stamps and letter-writing materials

Will I get a Pen Pal from Ireland?

Possibly, but it’s not guaranteed. Pen pals participate from many countries, but a pen pal from a specific country cannot be promised (most participants are from the US, Canada, and Australia). No matter who you get, they will likely have a passion and interest in Ireland, so you’ll have that in common. Efforts are underway to recruit more Irish pen pals.

How and when will I get my pen pal assignment?

You will receive your pen pal assignment via snail mail (you will write an introductory letter to them, and they will write you back). Meanwhile, another person will also be getting your name, and will send you an introductory letter. In the end you have two pen pals. The Spring Session assignments go out in late March.

Why is the assignment sent via snail mail?

Based on our Secret Santa Gift Exchange, about 20% of people don’t receive or don’t open their emails. Snail mail is both in the spirit of the project and ultimately more likely to be opened.

Must I hand write my letters?

Handwritten notes are always nice, but not required. Our only request is that you write a personalized message that introduces yourself within 20 days of getting your assignment.

Is the pen pal project safe?

We work on the honor system and do not conduct background checks on people who sign up, and you participate at your own risk. Pen pal letters should be a friendly correspondence; so if you notice any questionable behavior, trust your gut; and also let us know.

Is my personal information safe?

Your name and address will be shared with your pen pals. Otherwise, we don’t share your information.

Can children participate?

Yes. We are not in a position to run a full-scale youth pen pal program, but as a courtesy to our audience, we welcome youth participants. They must have their parents’ permission, and we will do our best to match them up with someone similar in age.

What if my pen pal doesn’t write back?

We hope it doesn’t happen, but some pen pals “disappear.” We may run a “second chance” pen pal effort which would match up people who are ready and willing to write letters but ended up with a “deadbeat” pen pal.

How are pen pals matched up?

Participants are matched up randomly based on geography. So there’s an effort made to spread people out based on where they live (except for youth participants who are also matched based on age).

Can I email my pen pal?

The goal of this project is to promote non-digital communication, so you will only get their name and mailing address from us. However, after your initial letters, you and your pen pal can decide how you want to communicate.

Am I automatically signed up for future Pen Pal Sessions?

No. However, before a new session begins, you will be sent an email explaining how to sign up.

Can I get out of the Pen Pal Project?

Of course. Every email we send includes an “unsubscribe” link. Clicking that will remove from the Pen Pal Project. HOWEVER, once pen pal assignments are sent, you are expected to participate.