27 May 2022

WATCH: Newtown man's Christmas decorations light up community life

Cathal's Christmas lights are a family affair

If you have not viewed the illuminated Christmas wonderland that is the McGee family home in Newtowncunningham, you really should. It is spectacular.

Cathal McGee (77) has been building up his collection of Christmas mementos over the years and putting on a display in his front porch on Main Street. Cathal's highlight this year is Santa and his sleigh on the roof, put up with the invaluable assistance of all of his family.

Cathal's family described their dad as “Christmas mad” and encouraged people to come and view the lights in real life.

“Daddy is delighted when people to come and look at the lights. He is buzzing if someone comes into the house and says, 'Daddy, somebody's stopped there looking at the lights'. That just makes his Christmas. Or if he meets someone in the shop and they say, 'Your lights are lovely, Cathal'. He is just loving this Christmas. He always did.

“Daddy has been doing the display this for eight years and every year he tries to change the display a wee bit. We are all involved. We are all keeping a lookout for decorations for him wherever we go. Over the years, if we were away and we saw something unusual or different, we would bring it back for him.

“If you were to ask him where all of the decorations came from, he would have to say all around the world. He loves to get Christmas decorations as presents. Even if it is the middle of August, if you buy him a Christmas decoration, he is delighted.

“Daddy is not collecting any money from visitors but if anyone wants to make a little donation, they could go online to the Irish Kidney Association ( In the past mammy (Kathleen) and daddy would have done collections for the Irish Kidney Association. Mammy is decorations director of operations in the background. She is always with daddy when he is buying new ones,” said the family.

Cathal started decorating his home for his grandchildren. He loved seeing their faces when they saw the display and the Disney characters.

“Every year, as they got older, the display got a bit older with them.

“Last year, we didn't know about it but daddy was making a sleigh down in the shed. It took him about eight weeks to build and the next thing he came out with this sleigh and we were, 'Oh my goodness, where did this come from?' Then we got Santa and Santa's reindeer, of course.

“The whole family is into the lights and decorations display now as much as daddy. We all help. Just last week he got a Santa Post Box in Derry.

“The big thing last year was the reindeer on the roof, which turned out really well. This year he changed the whole arrangement. The whole thing kept him busy during Covid.

“Every year he tries to add something new to the display. He tries to make it a wee bit different. He has a wee helicopter in the porch, which spins around and Santa is in the middle of it in a snow globe, which he got recently.”

On Christmas Day the whole family, all in their Christmas jumpers, looks forward to Cathal's lights being turned on.

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