THEY were simply addressed to "Mr Santa Claus, Chimney, Limerick." Letters written by a brother and sister almost 80 years ago have been discovered in the chimney of a house.
The letters, in which the children asked for bicycles and "a big box of chocolates" were uncovered by John Scanlan when preparing to renovate the disused chimney at his home in Swanson Terrace, O'Connell Avenue, Limerick.
It was while cleaning out the fireplace, which had been boarded up for years, that John realised there was more than soot and leaves coming down the chimney.
"I just stuck my hand up the chimney and felt something up there," Mr Scanlan explained.
"I pulled down the two letters and I was amazed at what good condition they were in. I got the real shock when I saw the date that was written on them," he added.
The letters were written in 1929 by John and Patricia Meany. Both are now dead. The letters in the one envelope were addressed to 'Mr Santa Claus, Chimney, Limerick'.
Both children had simple requests. In his letter, John, who was seven at the time, asked for a bicycle, while his more ambitious sister, Patricia, then aged 11 asked for a bicycle and a "big box of chocolates".
Philomena Meany, a sister of John and Patricia and now know as Sister Maria Assumpta, visited her old home when contacted about the undelivered letters.
"I got an awful shock when I heard about the letters really, I'd often pass here and say that's where I used to live," Sr Maria said.
"It's funny that they asked for the same thing -- there's a chance Sean might have just asked for a bike because Patricia did," Sr Maria said.
"I'm not sure either of them would have got what they wanted. It's a pity they never got to see the letters; they would have had a real laugh at them."
Sister Maria rang her late brother's wife, Nancy, who lives in Dublin, to tell her of the amazing discovery.
"She was delighted when she heard about it. Nancy is 88 now and it'll be amazing for her to have something that Sean wrote before they even met," Sr Maria said.