Having seen countless Wexford people arrive at the gates of his “Christmas House" in December, Tony Fitzpatrick was delighted to present his annual cheque to Wexford Hospice Homecare recently.
The money was raised through donations left in a collection box at Tony’s gate, as they came to marvel at his Christmas display which consists of “a couple of hundred thousand bulbs”.
While the visitors only arrive in December, the process of taking all of his lights and ornaments out of storage, checking bulbs, erecting them around the house and then taking them down and storing them takes months.
Indeed, as we approach St Patrick’s Day, he confesses that there are still some lights left on the roof.
"I’m still at it here,” he laughs. “There’s still some stuff on the roof and I’m waiting for a bit of fine weather now to get the last of it down. Some of my lads tell me that I might as well leave it up. By the time I get it all into storage, I’ll nearly be taking it back out again!”
However, for Tony it's a real labour of love. It’s something he began 28 years ago when he and his late wife Mary started to spread that bit of Christmas magic. Since her passing in 2017, he's carried it on in her memory and a visit to his home has now become an essential part of Christmas for many Wexford families.
"Every year I try to raise a bit of money for Wexford Hospice Homecare with it,” Tony says. “They were so good to Mary before she died, I like to be able to give something back."
This year saw him present a cheque for €3,253 to the worthy cause and the donations he received are not something he takes for granted.
"I wasn’t expecting half that this year to be honest,” he says. “With the price of things at the moment and with plenty of people struggling, I didn't think we'd get that much in. I just want to really thank everyone who donated and I’ll look forward to seeing them all again next year, please God.”
Wexford Hospice Homecare were also extremely grateful to everyone who contributed, as well as Tony for his ongoing efforts.