John and Michael’s Toy Garage

Our father, who was from Co. Cork, met our mother while working in the City of Lincoln Hospital in England in the mid 1950s, and by the early 1960s they had settled in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, where my father was the County Hospital surgeon.  By that stage they had two small boys, myself Michael and my younger brother John. 

Living in Donegal our mother missed Lincolnshire.  So the first Christmas after my family had moved to Donegal  her brother Tony in England put together a package of Lincolnshire food products and other items to remind her of home, and this included  this hand crafted garage as a present for her two young sons. The garage was made to the right scale to take the standard ‘Dinky’ die-cast toy cars which every boy at the time possessed.

The cut-out lettering on the toy garage,  ‘Lindum Garage’ refers to the city of Lincoln, where my mother was from.  Lincoln was originally founded by a Roman legion as a settlement for veterans, and was called ‘Lindum Colonia’ which over the centuries segued into the name Lincoln. So our uncle’s intention was to give his two young nephews a delightful toy which we would treasure, while also reminding us of our English connections.

Michael Hanley

The present was a great success, both Michael and I loved using the garage as a setting for all kinds of playtime action with our big collection of toy cars and trucks.

So that’s the story of the wooden garage.  Good timing as it happens, as the wider family will be gathering at Tony’s home in England at the end of this month to celebrate his 90th birthday!

John Hanley

“Attached is a real period piece!  Photo taken in Derry about 1963 when I was 6 years old and Michael was 7.   I think it might have been a trip to Derry from Letterkenny as a First Communion treat for Michael. As you can see the attraction of the Photographers studio was that he had live Chimps and Gibbons who had been trained to pose with children – it would not happen now, I’m glad to say!”

The garage forms part of the significant Dorothy Hanley Collection donated to the Museum of Childhood Ireland in 2023