US High School ring is returned after 42 years

(1604SL12) Photo: Stephen Latimer
(1604SL12) Photo: Stephen Latimer

A US High School graduation ring found in Derry some five decades ago is to be returned to its rightful owner, 42 years after it was lost.

Derry man Dermot Chambers says he was “only a nipper” when he found the distinctive ring on ground close to Ardmore Chapel back in 1971.

“The shine caught my eye,” says Dermot.

“It was a beautiful day and there it was, just lying there. I knew it was a graduation ring and took it home. We talked about what to do with it but eventually it was just put away in a box.

“It stayed in that wee box until about three weeks ago,” he says.

Marked ‘Newbury Port High School Class of 1969’ and with the initials JHS inscribed on the inside, Dermot says he knew it would be of some value to whoever owned it.

After encouragement from workmates at Du Pont, Dermot resolved to try and return the ring to its owner.

“We got chatting in work one day about the things you keep, like old coins and stuff. I was talking about the ring and the boys in work were keen to see it. I took it in and there was a fair bit of interest in it.

“I went home that night and googled the name of the school, I was able to find out that there had been 200 graduates in 1969.

“So I e-mailed the secretary of the school and the next day she replied to tell me the JHS stood for John H Shoreman.”

Over the next few days e-mails went back and forth between Dermot and the Massachusetts school secretary who first tracked down an address for John, and then a phone number.

Dermot has since been in contact with the man whose ring he found 42 years ago and has been able to piece together how the ring was lost.

“He has e-mailed me to say he is absolutely ‘blown away’ as he had given up any hope of ever finding it,” says Dermot. “He knew he had lost it somewhere in Ireland. John had been working here with the US Navy and was based at Clooney. He remembers coming on his motorbike to visit a friend at the Beech Hill which was then also a US base; it must have fallen out of his pocket.”

He says he’s “delighted” to be able to reunite the ring with its owner after all this time.

“I would love to see the look on his face when he gets it in the post. To be honest, there’s a great satisfaction in being able to give it back and he’s promised me a pint of Guinness for returning it to him

“Hopefully we’ll keep in touch,” he says.