Donegal's biggest private home Christmas lights display set for switch on

This year Santa Clause himself with flick the switch for charity at Gortcally

Donegal's biggest private home Christmas lights display set for switch on

One of Ireland's biggest private home Christmas lights display is set to dazzle, once again this year, when special guest Santa flicks the switch this Friday.

Mary Whoriskey and husband Michael have been lighting up the townland of Gortcally outside Kerrykeel for the past 16 years, at Christmas.

They have raised almost €60,000 for charities including Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and support organisations for people battling cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s.

The incredible light display which features 20,000 light bulbs and hundreds of different configurations – attracts visitors from all over Ireland and Britain. The display covers more than an acre.

“It really is magical,” said retired shop assistant Mary - dubbed ‘Mary Christmas’ by locals in the north Donegal village.

“We’ve been told that it can be seen on a clear night by trans-Atlantic passenger planes overhead. It started as a bit of fun and it has just grown from there and we thought we’d use it to raise money for charities and over the years people have donated €57,000 to good causes.”

Mary admitted she gets more excited every year: “It’s a magnificent display. We literally have people coming from all corners of Ireland and from further afield too. It’s brilliant for children, especially younger children. I get so much pleasure in seeing how much they enjoy it. And, of course, the adults enjoy it too.”

The beneficiaries of this year’s donations are the Donegal Hospice and the local Mevagh Voluntary Fire Service. Friday’s events start at 7pm with carol singing with Santa due to land at 7.30pm. The lights will remain on until January 6.

The lights display includes a life-size crib, reindeer, snowmen, Santa’s magical grotto where Santa will meet children on Friday night, and where people attending will be treated to hot chocolate, mince-pies, and children will receive a Santa goodie bag.

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