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Wednesday 7 June 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# christmas past
WATCH: Santa visits the children of Dublin in 1948
Best day ever.

tricycle British Movietone British Movietone

IT’S A TIMELESS tradition. Santa Claus takes time out of his hectic Christmas schedule to drop into shopping centres and hospitals around the world, and magical memories are made.

But what did it look like almost 70 years ago?

Taken from the digitised archives of British Movietone, here’s a wonderful video of the big man’s visit to the children of Dublin, in a hospital and a cinema, in 1948.

If you recognise anyone in here, please email

‘Christmas means fun for the kids’ – 31 December 1948

St Ultan’s in Portobello, on the south side of Dublin, was a hospital for children founded and run by women – principally Kathleen Lynn, a suffragette and 1916 veteran.

In 1948, “Teach Ultain” was the site of a visit from Santa Claus himself. In the first part of this clip, he can be seen handing out what looks like a book, and a piece of fruit to a very pleased-looking boy sitting up in bed.

santahospital British Movietone British Movietone

The hospital shut down in 1984, and a multi-storey, four-star hotel and apartment block is now planned for the site, at 37 Charlemont Street.

The second part of the video shows hordes of kids at what looks like the Savoy Cinema (but could be the Carlton), on O’Connell Street, welcoming the arrival of a fully-costumed “Silver Knight.”

silverknight British Movietone British Movietone

These boys and girls were apparently on the “nice” list that year, as the narrator describes them as having “obeyed the traffic law”, and being rewarded with sweets and a “safety first” medal.

There’s a gem of a moment at the end of the video when a bewildered-looking little girl receives the prize of a new Raleigh tricycle after a draw, whose proceeds went to St Ultan’s.

tricycle British Movietone British Movietone

All crowned, of course, with hundreds of children dutifully singing Amhrán na bhFiann with their hands by their sides.

Here it is, in full.

British Movietone / YouTube

WATCH: A treasure trove of old Irish newsreels has gone online for the first time>

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