Pictured from left Tommy Cussen, OPEX and EHS Manager Abbott Cootehill; Kathleen Fitzpatrick; Tom Larney, engineering manager, Abbott; Seamus Fitzpatrick and Cllr Aiden Fitzpatrick switching on the Christmas lights at Erica’s Fairey Forest for the first time thanks to Abbott Cootehill. PHOTOS: ALEX COLEMAN

Lights for all seasons at Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill

Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill is well and truly sparkling thanks to support from friendly neighbour Abbott.

Christmas lights have been installed throughout the park to help bring some festive spirit to visitors.

Multinational firm Abbott, based just across the road from the forest, has covered the cost of the installation of the electrical system and will also shell out for the cost of the power.

The support shown by the company was warmly welcomed at the switching on of the lights last Thursday evening.

Speaking at the event, local Councillor Aiden Fitzpatrick praised Abbott for the support it gives the town.

Engineering manager at Abbott, Tom Larney, said supporting the initiative was a no-brainer for the company: “A lot of our staff would come here and spend some time here. They take their kids here and their wider families would come to Cootehill just to see Erica’s forest. The Cootehill Development Association are very good neighbours of ours and we’ve been working with them over the years.”

He also stressed that the electricity being used in the forest and by Abbott’s site in Cootehill is 100% green: “We buy our electricity from Airtricity so it is green from a carbon neutrality point of view.”

The forest was opened in 2016 in memory of Erica Ní Draighneain, who died of cancer that year.

The five-year-old’s grandparents, the Fitzpatricks of Station Road, look after the forest and were instrumental in the installation of the lights.

Her granny, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, says the new sockets will make a world of difference to the forest and the visitor experience:

“Up until now we’ve had a Christmas tree but we’ve had it lit with battery lights and it was costing a fortune. It was something that we really hoped we would get and I don’t think we would ever have got it only for the kindness of Abbott, our friendly neighbour across the road.”

And the decorations won’t stop with Christmas lights: “Come Valentine’s we’ll light up some hearts and at Easter we’ll do a few other bits and pieces. It’s lovely for the kids to come in here and see the tree and the lights.”

The Fitzpatricks and the Cootehill Development Association co-ordinate the maintenance and upgrading of facilities in the park, located on the shores of Dromore Lough on the Cavan-Monaghan border.