Roald Dahl's long-lost poem for Co Tyrone pupils goes on show

Primate Dixon Primary School principal Sean Dillon reads the poem written by Roald Dahl for pupils almost 30 years ago
Annamay McNally

A POEM penned by Roald Dahl especially for a Co Tyrone primary school will go on display today, after being lost in a dusty drawer for almost 30 years.

Events are being held around the world to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the author of classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches.

But for one class of boys from 1998, who wrote to Dahl after reading his book Danny, the Champion of the World, the occasion will be especially memorable because of a poem written just for them.

The collector's item, later published as part of an anthology in the Roald Dahl Treasury, lay forgotten in a drawer at Primate Dixon PS in Coalisland until 2012, when vice-principal Siobhan Murphy made the remarkable discovery.

Addressed to teacher James Maye and his P5 class, the typed letter, signed by Dahl, reads: “Hello handsome James and all the clever children at Primate Dixon Memorial Boys' School. Thank you so much for your lovely letters.

“My teacher loved using the cane.

“He would thrash me again and again.

“I’d be raised in the air

“By the roots of my hair

“While he shouted, “It’s good for the brain!”

“I used to wear pants extra thick

“To lessen the sting from his stick,

“When he saw what I’d done,

“He yelled, “This is no fun!

“Take them off altogether and quick!”

“From your letters to me it would seem

“That your teacher is clearly a dream.

“There’s no whacks on the bum

“When you can’t do a sum,

“Instead you get strawberries and cream.”

The letter will be displayed at Primate Dixon today, where members of the public are welcome to see the piece of literary history for themselves.

 The letter from world famous children's author Roald Dahl to P5 boys of Primate Dixon PS in Coalisland and their teacher Jim Maye

Principal Sean Dillon told the Irish News: “To think this envelope and the letter inside could just as well have been thrown out. We couldn’t believe it when we found it in a desk which had been brought over from our old school.

“We told the story of the letter at Mass at the end of the school year in 2012 but we wanted to wait until a special occasion like this to let as many people know about it as we could."

Mr Dillon also urged the class of 1988 to get in touch.

“I think to get the photo of the class together would complete the circle, as it were, of this magnificent story.”

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