A touch of Germany in Galway this Christmas

Galway will get a touch of the German yuletide this Christmas with the Continental Christmas Market in Kennedy Park, Eyre Square, from November 19 to December 19.

Galway will now join the European tradition this Christmas, following approval from the Galway City Council at Monday’s city council meeting. However the market has not received a universal welcome.

The Continental Christmas Market will have 70 stalls, a Santa’s Grotto, a German bier keller, an entertainment area, and all associated services within the perimeters of Eyre Square. These will be made up of 70 per cent international traders and 30 per cent local specialist traders.

The traders will be housed in specially made, high quality wooden Alpine chalets, offering a mixture of food, drink, and a diverse range of products. All traders will be sourced by Market Place (Europe ) Ltd. Access will be free to the public, and access through Eyre Square will be unrestricted for the duration of the event.

The permission for the market to go ahead has been welcomed by Fine Gael councillor Hildegarde Naughton, who described it as “a great opportunity for Galway”.

“The economic spin off with regard to hotels, restaurants, and retail within the city will bring a much needed boost to Galway in the lead up to Christmas,” she said. “It is events like this that have the potential to increase our international recognition and help promote the tourist industry in Galway city and county.”

However Independent councillor Catherine Connolly has given only “very guarded support” to the proposed market on the basis of “absolute guarantees”.

She said she was “disgusted” at how the project was handled from start to finish, and said that for councillors to have learned about it from the papers was “absolutely shocking”.

“There is an Environment Strategic Policy Committee which covers all casual trading matters,” she said. “Any application from the city market to be extended not only to go through this committee but encountered significant obstacles every step of the way to any extension and in particular from the business community. Yet the Christmas market was able to bypass all these procedures and proceed with announcements in the paper.”

Cllr Connolly said there was not unanimous support from city businesses for the market despite claims to the contrary. She further alleged that the council will receive “the miserly sum of €10,000 for the whole event and not the much lauded €70,000” which had been claimed previously.

The market will be given a full review in January/February. Cllr Connolly said this will give the market traders and city businesses an opportunity to evaluate the effect of the Christmas market on their livelihoods and to participate in the evaluation.

Fine Gael councillor Brian Walsh said valid concerns were raised by the traders but they should have “nothing to worry about” and that “the market will compliment the existing businesses”.

Outdoor Christmas markets are a feature of the festive season in Germany having originated in Dresden in 1434. The markets later spread to Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and have become increasingly popular in Scotland and England in more recent years.


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