Ho-ho-whole lot of decorating work

Jean Hegarty raised €1,000 for charity last year by displaying her collection of Santas to the public.

Some people take just a few hours putting up their Christmas decorations.

Others do it in a day.

But one Donegal woman has been decking her halls for the past 15 days and counting — all be-Claus of her huge collection of Santas.

Jean Hegarty, 65, has a whopping 2,100 Santas to find room in her festive home in Greencastle.

She began her Santastic collection when she married 45 years ago: Lucky for her, husband Hugo is not Claus-trophobic.

The collection includes fluffy Santas, chubby Santas, thin Santas, and wooden Santas, and they inhabit every corner of her home at Christmas time.

She has Russian Doll Santas, and Santas in the shape of teapots, cookie jars, pens, socks, hats, and even kitchen utensils.

Jean says it takes a ho, ho, whole lot of time displaying them all but it’s always been part of the festive fun, first for her children, Jacqui and Neil, and now her grandchildren, Aoibhe and Fionn, both 9, Hugh, 6, and Riley 2.

“I usually don’t take them out until Dec 1 and then it takes me about two to three weeks putting them all up — with a few more tweaks right up until Christmas Day,” she says.

“It would take me a solid week taking them all down again because I would be quite particular about storing them — many still have their original boxes.”

The administration worker started her collection in 1968 with a Santa-shaped Christmas tree decoration. More than four decades later, she has had to have a special floor built in the attic to accommodate them.

Last year, Ireland’s biggest Santa fan raised €1,000 for the LauraLynn Foundation after displaying her collection publicly for the first time. Funds raised this year will go to the same charity.


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