Kerrykeel couple Mary and Michael Whoriskey have vowed not to let this week’s burglary dim their Christmas spirit.
Each year, the kind-hearted couple sets up an amazing Christmas lights display outside their home at Gortcally. The event has raised thousands for local charities in the past 15 years and large crowds came out for the big switch-on on Friday night last.
But the Whoriskeys were shocked yesterday to find that the charity donation box was stolen from their entrance gate.
As garda investigations get underway, Mary tells Donegal Daily that the burglary was a disheartening blow to their joyous fundraiser.
“I just couldn’t believe it. We are coming on 16 years and nobody has ever laid a finger on anything,” Mary said.
The sad discovery was made shortly before 11pm last night, when Mary went to take the donation box inside for the night. Proceeds from this year’s display will be donated to Donegal Hospice and the local Mevagh Voluntary Fire Service.
“I went down to say a prayer at the crib, like I always do, and to unlock the box and take it inside. But it was gone.”
“I was upset at first,” Mary said, but she soon came to look on the positive side of the incident and hopes that no substantial donations were made during the day.
She said: “I thought to myself ‘you hate for this to happen’ but Monday is a quiet day for us. I looked back on my records from the same Monday last year and we didn’t take in much. So, for it to happen, it was the best night.”
Having trusted people to visit their home at Christmas for the past 16 years, Mary said she won’t let the burglary stop their charitable efforts.
“It’s a lesson learned. Michael will be in the workshop soon making a lock so good they’ll need cutters to take it away.
“I know in my heart and soul this was nobody from the locality. We have people travelling from all over to visit and we love to see people coming.”
Before the new box is made, anyone visiting in the next few days is invited to make a donation directly to Mary.
“I’ll be at home in the kitchen, all donations will be very welcome,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gardaí have launched a public appeal for information relating to the burglary. The theft occurred sometime between 3.30pm and 10.30pm at the Whoriskey’s house at Gortcally, outside Kerrykeel, on Monday 25th November.
The donation box is described as a handpainted box with white lettering.
Anyone with any information is being urged to contact Milford Garda Station on (074) 915 3060