The Christmas market is set to be rolled out across the city centre – from Eyre Square to Woodquay and Spanish Arch – this year in an effort to grow the four-week event.
Following concerns raised about damage to the grass on Kennedy Park from the Continental Market on previous occasions, the operators – the Galway City Business Association – has made significant changes to the plans for this year.
■ A market in Eyre Square with a central location on a reduced footprint and the bier keller moved to the middle of the Square;
■ An ‘enchanted garden’ with lights and decorations at the bottom of the square (the former bier keller site);
■ A Christmas Wonderland in the Eyre Square Centre;
■ Events in the City Library;
■ Amusements and vintage carousel at the Spanish Arch;
■ Weekend crafts and arts market at Woodquay;
■ ‘Christmas on Ice’ skating rink at the Docks;
■ Pantomimes in the Town Hall Theatre.
The business group also hopes to make use of the northern side of Eyre Square (near Supermac’s) and the pedestrianised area alongside the Skeff.
During a presentation to city councillors this week, Áine Feeney, Chair of the GCBA, said the market will run from November 20 to December 22 and an events licence application is being prepared.
She said the committee is “very mindful” of past experiences, and now believe the event should be rebranded as ‘Christmas in Galway’, to incorporate the entire city centre.
“There is a general feeling that the market experience should be transferred throughout the city – to include Shop Street, Woodquay, Spanish Arch and the existing (St Nicholas’) Saturday market,” said Ms Feeney.
She said the bier keller would be moved from Kennedy Park because of the damage that had been caused to the grass by previous markets.
Ms Feeney said the GCBA wants to build on the €16 million which the market has generated for the city since 2010.
The business group is also keen for an investment to be made over the next few years in the city’s Christmas street lights.
The GCBA has paid for and maintained the lights for the last 11 years – last year the bill was €26,000.
Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) said he believed the words ‘Christmas Market’ were crucial to attracting people to the city, and he believed there are too many food stalls at the market.
He added that he would not like to see everything move to the Latin Quarter.
Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said his issue is with the management of the market, and a “damning report” previously drawn up which raised health and safety concerns.
He asked if any event company is in place for 2015, as he would strenuously object to the previous one being contracted again.
Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF) said the market has brought huge revenue to the city, and he was delighted that it is being spread throughout the city.
Businessman Anthony Ryan – the former chair of the GCBA and who heads the committee responsible for the Christmas market – said it is not intended that any grass areas in the Square will be used, if possible.
He added that at a meeting with the Health and Safety Authority last year, the market operator ‘ticked all the boxes’, and he had no issue there.
Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.
Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.
The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.
As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.
Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow: collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.
In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.
As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.
Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.
Park fun to mark Africa Day
On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.
Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.
Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.
Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.
Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.
In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.
Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.
The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.
Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.
Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’
BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON
A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.
Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.
The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.
The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.
Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.
“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.
“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.
“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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