Neil Shanahan, 3, who survived a fall from the sixth-storey balcony of the Limerick Strand Hotel in July, has been chosen to switch on the Christmas lights with the city’s Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon, it has been announced.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the ‘Light up Limerick’ switching-on ceremony organised by Limerick City and County Council, in partnership with Limerick Chamber, which takes place on Sunday evening at 6pm outside Brown Thomas on O’Connell Street.
Pride of place will undoubtedly be given to the Farranshone boy, who has defied the odds by not alone surviving the fall but making a steady and remarkable recovery.
Neil, accompanied by his parents Martina and Mike, has made huge progress and will be centre stage in what will be an unforgettable evening in Limerick when a wide array of Christmas festivities will unfold with entertainment starting from 4:30pm.
The highlight will be the switching on of the lights at 6pm but, prior to that, the throngs will be entertained by street performers and bands/singers, with soprano Sinéad O’Brien, Unity Gospel Choir and Jason Hennessy warming up the crowd ahead of the biggest cheer of the weekend in the city when the huge lights display switches on.
Santa himself will, of course, be present and there’s also a promise of snow to thicken the festive mood. There is also a “special surprise” scheduled for the evening, organisers have said.
Light up Limerick will this year involve miles of new LED lights following the €100,000 investment by the local authority this year in the brand new display.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said: “Christmas is a special time, not least for the very young and we will have a very special young man in Neil Shanahan with us here on Sunday evening to turn on the lights.
“Limerick has had a great year in terms of economic progress and we have a lot to celebrate.
“Neil’s miraculous recovery is one of the great stories of the year and he is a real beacon of hope for all to latch onto, not least at Christmas.”