IT has taken weeks of hard work to get everything in its place but now the Noonan household in Templeglantine is ready for the big switch-on which takes place this Friday night.
Then, the Noonan house and garden will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland, a festival of lights that has now become an enduring Christmas tradition in West Limerick.
This year, the Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr Liam Galvin will do the honours and switch on the lights but, says Tony Noonan, Santa Claus will be there too, ready to bring all the letters he gets back to the North Pole.
All are welcome to attend Friday’s big switch-on, says Tony.
“We usually get a crowd,” adds the man who has been decorating his home for charity for longer than he can now remember.
Over almost two decades, well over €100,000 has been collected for local charities.
“I never dreamt it would turn out like this,” says Tony. “It is all voluntary. There is no pressure on people. Some people have money. Some don’t. They can all come and enjoy it.”
Tony started putting up the lights almost two months ago on September 22.
“For safety reasons, I like to start early,” he says.
“This year we have a new state-of-the-art crib with carved figures like the ones you would see in Newcastle West or Templeglantine church,” he explains.
“We also have new American lighting to add a bit more sparkle.”
Thousands of bulbs are involved each year, (and a mighty ESB bill) but Tony is careful to keep the lights spectacle within bounds. He wouldn’t like it to be tacky, he says.
This year too, Tony is appealing to people to bring all their one cent and two cent coins, the ones they have stashed in jars and drawers.
“Bring them to me and I will take them and see the charities get them,” says Tony, adding his gratitude to his sponsors.
This year too, the Noonan’s Winter Wonderland will feature as one of three Christmas lights houses to feature on TV3.
A television crew will film in Templeglantine this Thursday and Tony expects them to be there also for the big switch-on on Friday evening.
Another regular feature of the Winter Wonderland extravaganza is the Santa Claus day which takes place this year on Saturday, December 5 when Santa Claus will arrive by sleigh under Garda escort and with a mountain of gifts to give away to children.
Tony expects the TV3 crew will be back to film some scenes with Santa.
Meantime, if you want to be there when the lights go on this Friday, simply follow the road signs from Barnagh, the Devon Cross or Abbeyfeale. The ceremony will take place at 7pm.
The charities to benefit include the Brothers of Charity in Newcastle West and Foynes, the Alzheimers Day Care Centre in Adare, Milford Care Centre as well as the Acquired Brain Injury Centre in Castleisland.