Galway City Tribune – An estimated 25,000 people thronged the streets for the biggest Christmas lighting up event Galway has ever seen as Santa traversed the city on his sleigh followed by an entourage of giant cartoon characters, elves and snow royalty.
In an initiative organised by five city centre business organisations and Galway City Council, massive Christmas decorations were turned on and entertainment laid on at key locations to ensure families could get up close and personal with the man himself and his 25 oversized friends.
Kicking off the parade at Raven Terrace in the West End was grocer Ernie Deacy who officially switched on the ‘Star Gate’ installation followed by carols from the Gaelscoil MhicAmhlaigh Choir and an excerpt from the upcoming play by the Blue Teapot Theatre Company.
Santa’s reindeer then led the Giant Ice King and Queen and the Santa train over Wolfe Tone Bridge, passing the Claddagh Basin where an illuminated swan family will reside for the Christmas period.
A fabulous star flake bauble was the next target for lighting by Connacht Rugby coach Andy Friend and captain Jarrad Butler in the Latin Quarter and the crowd was entertained by the Cois Cladaigh Chamber Choir.
Around 37,000 people were estimated to have attended the Christmas Market on its opening weekend buoyed by the fine, crisp weather.
Market Organiser Maria Moynihan Lee said the strong start meant they were on track to match last year’s 600,000-strong attendance despite the scaled back layout due to the ban on cabins being erected on the grass.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and for lots of photos of the colour from around town, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.
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Swimmer rescued in Salthill by Galway Lifeboat crew
Galway RNLI Lifeboat rescued a swimmer who got into difficulty near Blackrock this afternoon in poor weather conditions.
The alarm was raised at 12.25pm by a pedestrian who saw the woman struggling in the water between Blackrock and Ladies Beach. The Irish Coast Guard sought the assistance of the RNLI Lifeboat who launched from Galway Docks a short time later.
The woman who was a couple of hundred metres from the shore opposite the Galway Bay Hotel. They took the woman on board and brought her back to the Lifeboat Station where an ambulance was waiting. Paramedics assessed the woman’s condition and she was allowed home a short time later.
Shane Folan, Deputy Launch Authority with Galway Lifeboat said: “We would advise anyone thinking of going swimming to let someone else know. Today, for example, there were very challenging weather conditions with high winds and breaking surf.”
The lifeboat volunteer crew on the call-out were: David Badger (Helmsman), Martin Oliver, Ross Forde and James Rhattigan.
Gardaí warn GMIT students about weekend travel as Covid numbers rise
Students at GMIT have been warned by Gardaí that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to ensure compliance with the 5km travel rule – as the HSE warned today of increasing numbers testing positive for Covid-19 in the Galway City student outbreaks.
The college emailed all students to inform them that management had a meeting with Gardaí in relation to students planning on travelling home at weekends.
While students are permitted to travel to and from GMIT for educational purposes when there are onsite classes, there are no onsite classes scheduled at the moment and therefore there should not be any travel for educational purposes.
“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” the email reads.
Meanwhile students at the college were also told that following the Covid outbreak last week among GMIT students, numbers are still increasing.
“The HSE informs us that numbers testing Covid positive continue to rise,” the email reads.
Help local charities by sharing your pandemic feelings
The public has been invited to write down and share with others their experience of living in Galway through the global Coronavirus pandemic.
‘Three Questions’, an initiative spearheaded by Galway Volunteer Centre, wants people of all ages and backgrounds to log their thoughts and feelings on the past year living with the reality of Covid-19.
The project aims are twofold: to develop a written archive of the memories of Galway people from the past 12 months but also the act of writing down those memories can act as a sort of therapeutic exercise for the public.
People are being asked to divulge their memories by answering three questions: what was your biggest challenge in the past year; what was the biggest lesson you have learned in the past year; and can you think of someone or something you are grateful for over the past 12 months and why?
The collection of people’s written memories will form an archive that will benefit all, but the individual act of writing down memories is also beneficial to the person who takes part, explained Donncha Foley, Manager of Galway Volunteer Centre.
“There’s a lot of science behind this in that there’s a lot of evidence to show that reflecting on the past and learning from it is of great benefit from a mental health perspective and personal development and also the idea of showing gratitude to somebody else has huge mental health benefits as well,” he said.
Mr Foley said what is unique about Covid-19 is that everybody has been impacted by it, and everyone has a memory of it.
“Some changes have been very dramatic for some people, for others maybe not so much but everybody has been affected in some way. There are very few opportunities to meet up and talk about the challenges of the last year, and from a mental health perspective we feel it would be useful for people to use this initiative to think about what’s happened over the last 12 months,” he said.
The project is part of the Keep Well campaign launched by Government and funded through Healthy Ireland and Pobal.
People who respond to the initiative are asked to nominate a local charity or community group and there are two prizes of €500 up for grabs for those organisations if your memories are chosen as the winner.
Submissions will be reviewed by Galway Volunteer Centre and a selection will be published – with permission of the participants – on social media and in the Galway City Tribune.
“We’re hoping that we gather enough so that people can look at other people’s experiences and get their perspectives on the year and see that many people have had the same challenges.
“The phrase that has been used often is that ‘we’re all in this together’ and this is an opportunity to reflect together while still maintaining social distancing,” Mr Foley said.
Applications are available in this week’s Galway City Tribune, and can be returned to Volunteer Galway, 27 William Street West, Galway. To submit your answers online, visit the centre’s website.
The deadline for submissions is March 9, and there is no word count limit – contributions can be long or short. Entrants must include contact details.
(Photo: Donncha Foley of Galway Volunteer Centre)