Ho-ho-no – Santa's had his sleigh stolen
SANTA'S sleigh has been stolen from one of Dublin's most spectacular Christmas displays.
The ceramic model with a Santa Claus and two reindeer was taken from the front garden of Des Murphy, whose festive lights have raised €70,000 for charity in 12 years.
"I want this Santa sleigh brought back immediately," he said. "I'm sickened, I really am.
"I had a wonderful display planned to open this weekend. I felt like not opening it this year, but I'll go ahead anyway."
Mr Murphy (76) said the 1ft tall by 2ft long model was the centrepiece of his show.
"Every year I've received thousands of euro in donations from people who come to view it," he added as he waited for gardai to arrive at his home in Thorndale Avenue, Artane.
"Ever since I saw displays in America, I've worked to make mine the best in the country.
"This year's is great. I bought three cowboys in Spain and I've even included some elephants and dinosaurs."
Mr Murphy, who has six children and four grandchildren, worked for 49 years with the Irish Glass Bottle Company.
He has written a number of pocket guidebooks on Dublin, including booklets about the city's churches and bridges.
He sells a book about Santa Claus each year to help swell funds raised by the display.
Most of the €70,000 he has gathered has gone to children's hospitals in Dublin, but, in all, nearly two dozen charities have benefitted from donations handed over for his garden.
However the recession has hit, with Mr Murphy saying that the €4,000 raised last year was a sign of hard times.
Bertie Ahern and his children were regular visitors to the display, Des said, adding that people often brought their youngsters long distances for a peek at it.
Mr Murphy, who has spent thousands of euro on the attraction over the years, added: "The look on a child's face, you can't buy it."
Although his wife Geraldine helps, he does most of the work himself. He is hoping this year's show will bring about an increase in donations.