Tony lightens budget gloom

A full-time carer in Limerick has found the perfect distraction to harsh budget cuts: Creating his own winter wonderland.

Tony Noonan’s eye-catching illuminations at his hillside bungalow at Tullig North, Templeglantine, have been compared to the glow of an airport in West Limerick.

The 56-year-old and his wife Hannah care full-time for their only child Siobhán, aged 32, who suffers from Rett syndrome.

The spectacular Christmas lighting has emblazoned his home for a number of years and, such is its scale, the ESB installs a special transformer at a cost of €1,000.

Tony, a former Barry’s Tea representative in the Mid-West area, said family life revolves around his daughter.

“Siobhán loves lighting and as I developed the Christmas display over a number of years, it seemed to brighten up her life as it got bigger and bigger,” he said.

“It gives immense enjoyment to Siobhán and also to the people of the area and other visitors.”

His idea has helped generate €150,000 for local charities through donations. “While it aids charities, we also want local people to enjoy the spectacle,” he said.

Tony, whose family home is between Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale, has not missed an All-Ireland football final in 35 years. “But from late September onwards, the focus is on sorting out the Christmas lights and other displays. The most important element of the display is the crib which, for me, is the centrepiece of Christmas.

He said that last Sunday, about 500 children came to a Christmas party at the house. “We had wren boys, music, and entertainment, along with Santa. The second Sun-day of December is always a huge day outside the house and we raised €2,500.”

Tony had to give up his job with Barry’s Tea to assist his wife in taking care of Siobhán. “The company was very good to me, it looked after us and showed great kindness and respect for me and my family. They couldn’t have done more.”

For five days a week, Siobhán attends a Brothers of Charity centre in Foynes, one of the four charities Tony has chosen this Christmas.

On the budget cuts, he said: “We are full-time carers but that’s the way things are. Some of the decisions made make you wonder. But with our wonderful lightning, it brings a distraction and lots of happiness to us and many others. We haven’t [had] too much time in the past week to think too hard about the budget.”

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