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Jim’s lightshow lives on

The late Jim O’Driscoll’s front garden in Elm Park has been a huge attraction for the young and not so young over the years. Photograph by Declan MonaghanTHE Christmas spirit of the late Jim O’Driscoll will live on this week, as his family carry on his tradition of lighting up their home in Elm Park to raise money for charity.
Jim’s home became synonymous with the Christmas season for more than 10 years, with people coming from all over the county to witness his home decorated with more than 10,000 individual lights and a host of other decorations.
He would spend months preparing his home to become a winter wonderland, inviting both the young and young at heart to come along and join in the festive fun. Over the years, he has raised money for charities such as Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Cahercalla Hospice and the Clare Sunset Foundation.
Although Jim passed away in March of this year from complications of type 2 diabetes, his family are determined that his last wish to light the lights one last time to raise funds for Diabetes Ireland will come true.
On Thursday, the lights will be turned on once more at 75 Elm Park. Jim’s wife ,Ann said, “Jim had the tradition of lighting the house for Christmas and raising money for charity and he just loved doing it. He absolutely loved Christmas. At first ,I was doubtful about putting up the lights again but Christmas was always for Jim and that’s the bottom line of it. The last time we lit the lights was in 2009 when we raised money for the Clare Sunset Foundation because he was in hospital in 2010. But his plan was to do the lights one last time for diabetes but unfortunately he never got the chance to do that.
“After he died, I didn’t think anymore about the lights but people kept asking me about them and if we were going to do it again. I wasn’t sure because of course there are good days and bad days but then I thought if Gráinne Flynn of Diabetes Ireland in Clare would like us to help raise funds for them, then we would do it. When I spoke to Gráinne we reminisced about Jim and how he had wanted to do the lights for Diabetes Ireland so we said we’d do it. They are up now and there is no going back so please God they’ll be a success for the charity, that’s all I’m hoping.
“There are lots of people out there with diabetes, Jim had it for many years and it brings a lot of complications. It affects so many different parts of the body and Diabetes Ireland do great work.”
Jim and Ann’s son, John, along with a friend, took over the work of putting the massive number of lights on the house. “We have put up the same decorations Jim would put up, there is nothing less and nothing more than what he had through the years,” said Ann.
She said she hopes not only will the lights raise much-needed money for charity but that they will also help people to remember Jim.
“He is very missed and I hope he will be remembered at this time. He was always the man who would be out there handing out the lollypops to the children when they came to see the house. Lighting the house was very much his tradition and we hope he will be looking down on us when we light the lights and be proud of what we have done.”
She also praised both Jim’s and her own family for their support and her neighbours and friends for their help.
The official switching on of Jim’s Christmas Lights will take place this Thursday at 75 Elm Park, Gort Road, Ennis at 5.30pm by Ennis town councillor Frankie Neylon.
On Saturday, Santa Claus will pay a visit to the house between 4.30pm and 7pm with gifts for boys and girls, as well as mulled wine for the adults.
“Everyone’s invited and we’ll be having mince pies, mulled wine, hot food and some treats for the children,” said Ann.
The lights can be seen every evening until January 6 between 4pm and 11pm.
Gráinne Flynn, secretary of Diabetes Ireland in Clare, encouraged everybody to go along and see the lights. “The Clare branch of Diabetes Ireland hopes lots of families from Ennis and the surrounding areas in County Clare will come out to see Jim’s Christmas Lights and to support his wish to raise money for diabetes awareness and education. People can make a donation in Jim’s memory to Diabetes Ireland by calling 1850 909909 or by logging onto www.diabetes.ie and clicking the ‘Quick Donate’ icon.”

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