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Christmas Market to become a city-wide event

Enda Cunningham

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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.

They include:

■ 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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Glass roof over Latin Quarter among raft of proposals to Galway City Council

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to put a roof over the Latin Quarter – with outdoor heaters to combat Galway’s changeable weather – is among a raft of suggestions that will be considered by the Council as it draws up the next City Development Plan.

The widespread use of outdoor theatre and extended opening hours for retail and cultural attractions are also on the cards as members of the public and lobby groups push for a city that offers the broadest range of tourist attractions.

As part of series of measures put forward to improve the outdoor offering in the city, one submission – which is understood to have been noted by the Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath in his report on plan, which is at ‘pre-draft’ stage – is to put a glass ceiling on the city centre’s main commercial thoroughfares.

Planners are currently considering the proposal as part of more than 500 submissions made to Council in the first public consultation for the document, which will shape development in the city for six years after 2023.

It’s proposed that by covering the length of Quay Street/Latin Quarter in high retractable glass panes ‘mounted on decorative supports’, and installing street heaters, ‘a comfortable outdoor ambiance could be created’.

This is one of almost 50 submissions made in the area of economic development, where the theme of improving the city’s night-time economy and tourism offering feature prominently.

In another submission from Fáilte Ireland, the tourism authority expresses its desire that the next City Development Plan should have a chapter dedicated to tourism, such is its importance to the city’s economic success.

As well as developing Galway’s growing reputation as a ‘foodie destination’, developing the night-time economy is identified as being ‘an important aspect of ensuring a vibrant city centre and means more than just developing a bar and restaurant culture’.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

100 new jobs for Galway City Sports Direct outlet

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Sports Direct retail giant is set to create up to 100 new jobs when it takes over the former Debenhams department store in the Corrib Shopping Centre.

And the company’s sister outlet Heatons looks set to make a return to the city – possibly in the same building, although management are remaining tight-lipped.

Sports Direct has taken a lease on the Debenhams premises, which has been vacant since before the pandemic, and it will open in June.

“The 65,000 sq ft store will comprise four floors and will consist of Sports Direct, USC and Brand Max. 100 jobs for the store will be created,” a spokesperson confirmed to the Galway City Tribune.

The spokesperson could not confirm that the Heatons brand – which is also owned by English billionaire Mike Ashley – will also be opening as part of the move. The group is currently advertising for staff to work at a new Heatons store in Galway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Forty firefighters tackle major blaze at Galway golf shop

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Up to 40 firefighters from across the city and county fought a major fire at the GolfStyle superstore off the Tuam Road for around six hours on Thursday morning.

Gardaí on routine patrol in the Liosbán Business Park shortly before 3am noticed smoke coming from the roof of the building and immediately alerted the fire service.

The building, which was unoccupied at the time, is understood to have suffered major structural and roof damage in the fire that started in the first floor.

At one point, 11 fire engines from the city, Athenry, Loughrea, Carraroe and Gort fought the blaze, using water tankers and aerial ladders, as well as having a command unit in place.

Firemen equipped with breathing apparatus also had to force their way into the building to tackle the source of the fire, that possibly could have been caused by an electrical problem.

The fire was brought under control at around 7.30am, but the Fire Brigade remained at the scene for a number of hours afterwards in case of any secondary outbreak.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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