IT'S a heartwarming Christmas tale about a little girl, her lost shoe, and the generosity of Usman the Dublin busman.
Two weeks ago, John Ryan and his wife, Chizuru, took their three children – Ken (6) and four-year-old twin girls Nabbie and Kay – on a festive day out.
After spending a few hours in town, they took their usual number 11 bus home, and a tired but happy Kay fell asleep on her mother's lap.
As they neared their stop, outside their house on Dublin's Ballymun Road, John lifted up his sleeping daughter and carried her home. But after laying her down on the living room couch, he noticed she was wearing only one shoe.
John said he was desperate to find the missing shoe as it holds important sentimental value for the family.
Kay's grandmother, who lives in Japan and who "misses her grandchildren dearly", regularly sends over trainers as gifts.
John, who met his Japanese wife 10 years ago while living in Asia, returned to Ireland three years ago with his young family.
"Of course they were only a pair of trainers – but that lost shoe meant a lot to all of us. It was one of the main reasons why we were so desperate to get it back."
His wife drove the family car and traced the 11 bus route as far as Drumcondra but there was no sign of it. They then checked when the next number 11 was due and John went out to flag it down.
Three hours later, his phone rang. "It was the driver I had spoken to. He said the shoe had been found and I should run out to the bus stop as the number 11 was due to pass, and the shoe was on board."
When mission was accomplished he then called the original driver, Usman Ghani, to thank him for his help. "I'd just like to say to Usman and his colleagues, thank you and Merry Christmas."