Courtesy of The Independent Swords, Ireland, Issues: June 6, 1997 and August 14, 1998
IRELAND - On the 21 anniversary of the death of the man everyone called 'The King', a Swords couple have earned their own place in the Elvis chronicles with the news that historic letters written to them by the man himself are to be displayed at his primary school.
Maurice and Maureen Colgan from Mooretown Road last year won an all-expenses paid dream trip to the king's home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, thanks to the almost unbelievable tale of their own Elvis connections. Radio presenter Gareth O'Callaghan sought the best Elvis story from listeners all over Ireland and the Swords couple knew they were almost a 'dead cert' to walk away with the prize.
Elvis gets full credit for bringing the couple together in the first place as Maurice ducked out of a lad's night out in England in 1957 when attracted by the sound of Elvis blaring from a nightclub. Inside he met Maureen and the two enjoyed their first dance to the romantic Elvis slow song. They married in 1959, lived in Solford and their son John was born in 1960. In January 1961, while pregnant with her daughter Tracey, Maureen became critically ill and went on the danger list in the hospital.
Maurice sought any possible way to keep her spirits up and decided to drop a note to Elvis seeking a get well message. I knew it was a million to one chance, but she was very, very ill,' he explains. It was such a long shot that he never even told Maureen what he had done and thus the surprise was even the greater when, less than a week later, a handwritten letter from Presley arrived for her at the hospital.
The King, who was at the absolute height of his career and was already a legend worldwide, even went one unsolicited step further with a letter arriving for Maurice at the couple's home address in which Elvis informed him that he had indeed written to his wife. Maureen's letter reads: 'Just a short note to say I hope you are feeling much better. Take care of yourself and don't worry - everything will be alright.' Unusually, it was signed 'Elvis Presley' rather than his regular 'EP' or 'E Presley'.
Maurice's letter reads: 'I sent your wife a get well message. Take care of her and yourself. May God bless you both.' It was signed 'EP' and both letters have since been authenticated by Sotheby's. 'They are sort of unique and they show a side of Elvis which people really should know about,' said Maurice. 'He was a really nice person and has had some terrible press. He deserves better than that.
Personal handwritten Elvis letters are rare with their monetary value uncertain. A letter written to a former girlfriend fetched almost $5,000 at a 1990 auction. The Colgans do not know what financial value a pair of personal Elvis letters might have, but they do not intend to find out for the moment. 'It would have to be a King's ransom,' said Maurice. Copies of the letters have winged their way around the world to various Elvis enthusiasts and the tale also led to Maurice and Maureen receiving an invitation to an international 'Elvis conference' in the US this summer.
Recently, the couple also received a warm letter from the Mayor of Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis's birthplace, telling them that he had passed on their years of cuttings to the local newspapers. Even cuttings from the Fingal Independent recounting the Colgan's near life-time of Elvis experiences are now to be found on display with hundreds of other items of Elvis memorabilia in Mississippi and Tennessee! 'Your story is indeed very impressive!', wrote Mayor Glenn L. McCullough Jr. 'Even in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis' birthplace, to have a letter written by Elvis himself is quite unique.'
And the principal of Lawhon Elementary School in Tupelo also wrote to the Colgans to thank them for their recent letter and story about their most famous past pupil. 'It is always interesting to hear stories about Elvis and his kindnesses. We plan to display your letters in our school's 'Elvis Case' for his many fans to enjoy,' wrote the principal.
However, one disappointment for Maurice and Maureen this year is the fact that they cannot take up the invitation to visit the fourth annual 'International Elvis Conference' at the University of Mississippi. The conference coincides with the 21st anniversary of Elvis' death which occurred on August 16, 1977. 'We would have turned boulders to get to it,' says Maurice. 'But the expense is a bit beyond us at the moment.
The couple have just returned from Salford, Maureen's former home, where they visited their newborn grandchildren, twins Rebecca and Rachael. No doubt the girls will grow up to be fourth generation Elvis fans and will one day proudly tell of their grandparents' amazing 'Elvis connection.'
Maureen & Maurice Colgan are on-line, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE OF THE ELVIS LETTERS
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