Kerrykeel couple Michael and Mary Whoriskey are going to have their Christmas lights shining beautifully again this year for a charity close to their hearts – Donegal Down Syndrome.

Each December, the big-hearted couple turns their home in Gortcally into a winter wonderland with hundreds of lights for families to enjoy.

Despite electricity bills soaring, Michael and Mary are determined to keep spirits bright for a fantastic local cause. They are appealing to any businesses who want to lend a helping hand to get in touch about sponsorship.

“Costs are going to be an issue this year, it’s not just diesel and ESB it’s other behind-the-scenes things like the cost of lights. One set of rope lights was €350 and we need more”, Mary said.

“We are reaching out to business people for a little bit of sponsorship. I know it’s extremely difficult for them too. Deep down I think they will help.”

The Whoriskeys’ magical display extends all around their house
Mary Whoriskey is on Santa’s good list for all her charity work!

People are also asked to donate any unused outdoor decorations to the display.

“Every year things break, so we are still on the lookout for more before December. People have so many in sheds and attics where the children of the house are grown up and we would really appreciate any donations,” Mary said.

The Whoriskeys have raised €94,000 over the past 17 years, and their Christmas wish is to cross the €100,000 mark in 2022.

The lights will be switched on for the public on Saturday 3rd December from 6pm. After that, they’ll be on every night from 6pm to 11pm.

Ollie the Christmas Lights Supervisor, and Mary and Michael’s grandson, keeps a close eye on events each year

The magical wonderland around the Whoriskeys’ home has become a place for families to make special memories, and also for romance! Last year saw two engagements, and Mary says anyone who wants to pop the question this year is more than welcome to request for the lights to be on a little later any day.

It’s all about the special moments, Mary says.

“It’s lovely to see. I was washing dishes one night. It was 11 o’clock and just in the middle of the yard there was this guy down on one knee. It was class,” she said.

Mary and Michael have a special helper to keep things running smoothly, Their little grandson Ollie is the Christmas Lights Supervisor. Five-year-old Ollie loves to help out and he also loves to attend the family functions run by the Donegal Down Syndrome association. He also has the important role of switching on the lights this year.

Ollie inspects the santas for 2022
Michael begins preparing the grounds for this year’s display

The Whoriskeys’ display was tinged by an unfortunate incident last year when their donations box was stolen from outside their home in early December. The person responsible was arrested and charged, and Michael and Mary quickly moved on with heightened security.

Mary said: “It was unfortunate what happened, but you can’t let that put you off. I want to say a special thanks to Brendan and the crew at Sheridan security for putting up a camera.”

A donation box will be affixed to the ground this year and donations are also welcome online. People who enjoy the lights are kindly asked to donate in person or at:

So why not take a trip to Gortcally this December, marvel in the beautiful lights and see how many santas you can count.

Hint – there are more than 250!