Whoriskey family to switch on sparkling lights display today

by Louise Doyle

KIND-HEARTED Kerrykeel couple Michael and Mary Whoriskey are set to switch on of their annual magnificent Christmas lights display for charity this evening.

The couple have been transforming their Gortcally garden into a magical winter wonderland for 18 years, raising around €104,000 for numerous charities.


When the Donegal News caught up with them earlier this week, the duo were putting their final preparations together ahead of the big switch on at 7pm.

Following Saturday’s official switch on, the Whoriskey’s home will illuminate with hundreds of Santas, snowmen and other festive characters each evening from 6pm to 11pm, and will no doubt attract hundreds of visitors.

St Bernadette’s Special School in Letterkenny and the Donegal branch of Critical – Emergency Medical Response are this year’s beneficiaries of the Whoriskey’s special fundraiser.

The lights will be switched on by Michael and Mary’s six-year-old grandson, Ollie.

The youngster was this week busily helping his grandparents making sure all of the displays and every light is fully operational and ready to go for the big switch-on.

The family’s lights display has become a beloved tradition for many, as the Whoriskey’s transform their garden this time every year into a magical wonderland for families to create special memories.

The beautiful setting has also seen many pop the question, with many engagements taking place.


Reflecting on the success of the lights display, Mary said she and Michael started it in 2006 with “just a few snowmen” in a bid to raise funds for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, which is very close the family’s hearts.

“To date, we have donated €104,000 to charities. It all started from nothing when our children were small. The first year we did the fundraiser it was in aid of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin who were so great to three generations of our family. We started with just a few snowmen and it grew from there. We’re now in our 18th year.”

Mary said Michael’s craftsmanship always plays an important role in the annual display.

“Michael can turn his hand to anything. If he sees something he thinks we can add to the display, he will go into his workshop to make and weld the piece.”

As for everyone in the cost of living and cost of energy crisis, Mary and Michael are also feeling the pinch of running costs.

They have called on anyone who wishes to help sponsor their running costs to meet electricity and diesel costs to run their generator to get in touch.

A donation box will be placed at the crib at the Whoriskey’s home. Donations are also welcome online via

Michael and Mary’s House is located at Gortcally, Kerrykeel. Eircode is F92F9W4.

Lights will be on display from 6pm to11pm from this evening onwards.

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