Historic Christmas decoration returns after going missing during renovations at Leavy’s Pharmacy in 2015
Shoppers on Dundalk’s Clanbrassil Street did a double take last week as Santa made an unexpected appearance in Leavy’s Pharmacy.
The much-loved Santa ornament, which has entertained generations of children since the1930s, was making an unseasonal visit to celebrate his return to the family-run shop.
The window decoration went missing when renovations were carried out on the shop in 2015 and Dermot Leavy was so delighted when he was returned to the shop that he put him on display for a week.
It was Dermot’s grandfather John who purchased the German-made Santa in the early 1930s, and after his grandfather’s death, Santa was passed onto Dermot’s father Eoin.
Dermot was very upset when Santa went missing on his watch in 2015.
"We were having some work done in the stores in January 2015 and Santa must have been taken away in a box.”
It wasn’t until five weeks later that they discovered that the box containing Santa was missing.
Dermot and the staff were devastated and in the run up to Christmas 2016, he made an appeal for Santa’s return.
"I put a photo of him in the window asking if anyone knew anything about him to get in touch.”
"I had always felt that he would turn up because if anyone opened the box and saw him, he wouldn’t have been sent to landfill.”
Earlier this year, he got a message that Santa had been found and the beloved ornament was subsequently returned to the shop.
Unfortunately, a letter written by a Mrs O’Neill from Ravensdale to his father about the Dundalk shop window Santas that had brightened her children which was in the box wasn’t returned.
Dermot and the staff were overjoyed that Santa was back where he belonged and decided to put him on display so that people would know that he had been safely returned.
Before making his appearance back in the shop window, Santa was rewired by optical technical Clem Bailey, who had previously wired him in the 1970s.
"He is wearing his third suit, which was made by my late aunt Bernadette Mullen.”
Dermot believes that it’s the well wishes of the Dundalk people that helped get Santa back in the shop window, from those that spread the word of his disappearance to those like Kathleen McGuirk from St Nicholas Avenue who offered prayers to St Anthony in St Nicholas’ Church for his safe return.
"He’s our Santa but he’s really Dundalk’s Santa,” said Dermot. “We just happen to be his custodians and I know how important he is to the people of Dundalk which is why we put him in the window last week.”
The Leavy’s Santa had now been stored safely away until he is put on display in November to delight another generation of Dundalk children, their parents and grandchildren.