Bright spark Ryan finds scorched 60-year-old ‘Dear Santa’ letter

December 22nd, 2020 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Ryan Hourihane-Gregan proudly holds the letter to Santa that was the talk of his class at Glandore National School

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A slightly singed 60-year-old letter to Santa has become a source of inspiration for the students at Glandore National School.

Principal Norma Whelton admits that the 29 pupils in fourth, fifth and sixth classes should have been doing Irish, last Thursday, but a ‘Dear Santa’ letter produced by 11-year-old Ryan Hourihane-Gregan caused something of a stir.

‘It’s singed from being in a chimney but it’s still legible,’ she said.

The letter, dated November 1st 1960 reads: ‘Dear Santa, please give me a jar, and a bottle for my dolly, also a stick with a balloon on it and a Rolls Royce dinky, and a game of Ludo too.’ It was signed by Yvonne Foley who wished Santa ‘a happy Christmas.’.

‘It was the innocence of it that struck us, the simplicity of what she wanted,’ said Norma. ‘The pupils were very taken with it.’

The principal placed the 60-year-old letter in a plastic pocket so the children could look at it more closely and it prompted a big discussion, or, as Norma described it, ‘A different kind of lesson.’

‘They wondered who would ask for those things now, and they compared it with things on their own Christmas wishlists,’ she said. ‘They were struck by the fact that the letter was written in ink, and wondered aloud, “Did Santa read it?”.’

The young but tech-savvy students suggested putting it on social media and what followed was a search for the letter-writer. According to Norma, the young detectives – assisted by local and national media coverage – believe they have traced her to Bray, Co Wicklow. The letter was originally found by a colleague of Ryan’s grandfather, the late Kevin Gregan, who was in the building trade, and had been kango-ing a chimney breast in a house in the Western Rd in Cork at the time.

Ryan, who is in fifth class in Glandore, became the centre of attention amongst his classmates after finding it in his granddad’s diary and bringing it to school.

‘It was exciting for him, for all of us,’ said Norma, who promised to keep the readers of The Southern Star up-to-date with the search for woman who sent Santa that letter 60 years ago.

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