15 years, €65k, Lehanes light up life
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.