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CITY TRIBUNE

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

Dara Bradley

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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

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
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

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
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

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
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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