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CITY TRIBUNE

Giant decorations and projections to be added to Galway’s festive lights

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Galway promises be more Christmassy than ever this festive season after it was agreed to invest a further €150,000 into creating a winter wonderland in the city.

A submission made by several business groups representing different parts of the city, proposing “an iconic festive light and colour experience”, has been unanimously approved by city councillors.

The novel initiative by businesses to improve the Christmas shopping experience in the city is an attempt to boost footfall and challenge the trend towards online shopping. The umbrella group of businesses has set an ambitious goal for the city – to become the “Christmas capital of Ireland”.

The proposal, which includes new light installations and projections on some of Galway’s iconic buildings, will complement and is in addition to the existing Christmas decorations and lights in the city and the Christmas Market.

The group promises to bring key city locations to life “in immersive and experiential ways” through the use of light and colour installations.

Four buildings – Lynch’s Castle, St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, the Bridge Mills and 19 Eyre Square (the Bank of Ireland and EY building)  – will be lit up with Christmas-themed projections. The plan allows for a further eight “magnificent large lighting features” to be placed at various locations around the city, including a giant snow flake at Spanish Arch, a giant star gate at Raven’s Terrace, a sitting LED bear at Woodquay, a reindeer family at Eyre Square, a festive swan at Claddagh Basin, hanging gift boxes at Shop Street and swinging angels and eagles at Forster Street. These installations use up a majority of the budget (€85,000).

In tandem with the launch of the Christmas Market, it is planned to hold a ‘Light Up Galway’ Christmas festival on November 16, which is a “one-off early evening extravaganza which brings Galway to life, in a fun, creative and colourful way”. This will include family friendly entertainment.

The joint submission was made by Galway City Business Association, Latin Quarter, West End Traders, East Village and Woodquay. The proposals were agreed, but only after assurances that Prospect Hill and Salthill would be included.

In it, business leaders outline how they believe Galway City “needs to build and add to the amazing Christmas experience thus far”.

“With an ever-increasing trend of online shopping, there has never been more of a demand on cities to offer an experience as a reason to visit. We believe this project will meet this demand. It will in essence bring a new and fresh vibe, and customer base, and experience to the city at Christmas.

“We believe it’s important (and) imperative that the city showcases itself in the (best) possible way and becomes the Capital of Christmas in Ireland and ultimately the European Capital of Culture in 2020,” the submission said.

Gary McMahon, Acting Director of Services with Galway City Council, said that some of the equipment to be used would be rented, but many items would be purchased and added to the city’s stock of lights and decorations for use in future Christmases.

All councillors present at the meeting voted for the €150,000 grant.

The ‘Light Up Galway’ event on November 16 will begin at 6pm at Raven Terrace, pass on to the corner of Cross Street and Quay Street, where there will be a 20-minute stop. The parade will move up Shop Street and stops outside Hartmann’s on William Street for another 20 minutes, then on to Woodquay for a further stop and finally back to the finale at Eyre Square.

The Santa Express Train will be leading the city tour. Santa and Mrs. Claus will follow on Santa’s Sleigh, headed by the Ice King and Queen and surrounded by a whole host of Christmas-themed characters including Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction

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Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags

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Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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