15 years, €65k, Le­hanes light up life

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Áilín Quin­lan

Their daz­zling an­nual Christ­mas lights dis­play has raised nearly €65,000 for Mary­mount Hospice over the 15 years they have op­er­ated their sea­sonal fundraiser — and this year, Neilus and Mar­garet Le­hane’s fes­tive ex­trav­a­ganza is big­ger and bet­ter than ever!

The show, which was launched by Lord Mayor Mick Finn on Sun­day, an­nu­ally at­tracts an es­ti­mated 2,000 vis­i­tors from all over the Cork re­gion and be­yond.

And it’s no won­der – with some 2,500 me­tres of lights, and more than 300 sep­a­rate Christ­mas fig­urines rang­ing from Christ­mas kan­ga­roos to an­gels and Danc­ing San­tas, the dis­play at Knock­av­illa is ac­tu­ally vis­i­ble from In­nis­han­non, sev­eral miles away!

The lights, which will be on dis­play from 6pm to 10pm ev­ery evening un­til Jan­uary 6, are sign­posted from the Cross­barry to Ban­don road — although as Mar­garet Le­hane quips, the Le­hane Light Dis­play is now so well-known that the ma­jor­ity of vis­i­tors no longer need di­rec­tions.

Prepa­ra­tions for this dis­play be­gin as far back as Oc­to­ber. The equip­ment is now so large it has to be stored in an out­build­ing be­long­ing to a neigh­bour. In early Novem­ber, Neilus and a group of neigh­bours, friends and — daugh­ter Eva is there to lend a will­ing hand — be­gin the weeks in­volved in set­ting up the dis­plays.

Mean­while the cou­ple’s son Mark never fails to send a new and ex­cit­ing ad­di­tion to the dis­play from Aus­tralia where he now lives — over the years his gifts have in­cluded a lightup kan­ga­roo, a herd of rein- deer pulling a sleigh and a spe­cial pro­jec­tor which trans­mits Christ­mas scenes to the win­dow of the fam­ily home.

“We have thou­sands of lights, go­ing over ev­ery bush, the roof and the lawn — and there are ropes of red lights go­ing from one tele­phone pole to another, which are vis­i­ble from In­nis­han­fam­ily non,” says Mar­garet.

“It’s a labour of love and we find chil­dren just can­not wait for the lights to be turned on. Neilus gets Christ­mas cards and presents from the chil­dren who visit, and one child even wrote an essay about the Christ­mas lights!”

The dis­play raised €10,686 last year — the high­est tally ever since the fundraiser be­gan 15 years ago. All pro­ceeds from the fund-raiser go to Mary­mount Hospice, which over the last 15 years has re­ceived €64,981 from the Le­hane’s light­ing dis­play. The cou­ple foots the bill for the elec­tric­ity re­quired to power the dis­play.

Mar­garet paid trib­ute to the neigh­bours and friends who ev­ery year gather not just to help put up the lights, but who pro­vide home bak­ing to fuel the work­ers: “It takes about a month to get the whole dis­play up and run­ning. We have about 10 peo­ple work­ing on the lights and another four or five neigh­bours and friends who bring food.”

Eva, Marg­erat and Neilus Le­hane with Cork Mayor Mick Finn af­ter turn­ing on the lights at Knock­av­ila .

To­mas, Paul and Han­nah Kelleher.

Santa, Clare Court­ney, Deirdre Sheehan and Eva Le­hane.

The Le­hane house glows in all its fes­tive glory.

So­phie and Don­agh Kelleher with Marg­erat Le­hane, Is­abelle, Margerite and Kathy Kelleher.

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