Sigi Murrihy

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lt is the premise of one of Disney Pixars most successful films; discarded, unwanted toys who are afforded a new lease of life. And tha’s exactly what local woman Sigi Murrihy is doing, ahead of this year’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal. Sigi, a German native who has been living in Limerick for more than 50 years, has made quite a name for her­self when it comes to the­ Team Hope shoebox appeal. Last year the 70 year-old sent off 214 shoeboxes to be enjoyed by less fortunate children in developing countries. And the moment they are all handed in, the search be­gins again for toys to be used the following year. This year, four special little dolls that had been thrown away were brought back to life with a little TLC by Sigi. After being re­covered and spruced up by the Caherdavin woman, the dolls will now be enjoyed and played with again for years to come.

“Someone had thrown them out, four dolls and two cars” she said. The dolls were naked, dirty, and needed a lot of love. They’re lucky they met Sigi. “I brought them home and washed and scrubbed them in disinfectant, and washed their hair. Their hair came back perfect,” she said. “Two friends of mine knitted the new clothes and hats: Hanne and Mary.” And that’s not the only team effort involved. Wrap­ping and packing some 200 boxes every year is no joke and Sigi drafts in help from other locals to get the job done “The boxes come from Gleeson’s (shoe shop, in Limerick City). I have one woman who helps me to cover them, Carmel O’Brien. It’s a big job.” The four dolls’ transform­ation is just one example of the level of care she puts into every toy.

She does it year-round, cleaning, adding things on, putting things together to make a set. “I had this toy car, you see, and I didn’t have a little figure to sit in the car. And lots of the figures don’t bend their legs to be able to go inside the car:· she said, gesturing with a little toy in her hand that did have the capability to sit. So I came across this little one, but it had no hair, it just had a hole on top of its head where it had lost the hair; I cut off a little corner from a rabbit skin I had at home, and I stuck it on, and now l have a lovely punk!” Everyone she has told about the little punk “got a fit of laughing”, said Sigi. Didn’t she mind stealing a corner from her rabbit skin? “It was just a little corner, like, you wouldn’t notice it at all,” she said. I have to fix up a lot of stuff. It keeps me busy”. The love she puts into each toy is a no-brainer when you know Sigi’s back story. She left her home in Freiburg at the
age of six during World War ll, when bombings destroyed much of the town. Without any of her old toys, she receive the gift of a little doll. “It was like heaven” she said.  This July, the German Ambassador to Ireland; Deike Potzel, brought her packed shoebox during visit to Limerick after hearing about her work. “I have 60 boxes filled full for this year, and I a aiming for 199. My husband Pat is very patient. We are married 54 years this week!” she said.