Pioneering Kate to kickstart Galway’s Christmas

Katie O’Halloran, the only Irish person and first woman to receive two above-elbow prosthetic arms, will be the guest of honour at the official opening of the Galway Continental Christmas Market and will turn on the city’s festive lights tomorrow evening (Friday ).

A native of Cill Chiarain, Ms O’Halloran was born with femur fibula ulna syndrome, leaving her without arms and with a shortened right leg. However, following a massive fundraising drive she travelled to the USA, where she was fitted with 17 electrodes that connect to the new COAPT control system that allows the signals to be transmitted from her brain to an iLimb Ultra Revolution hand. Only 20 people in the US have had this procedure. Following 10 weeks of intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy, Katie recently returned home equipped with the world’s most advanced prosthetic limbs.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will commence at 5.30pm on Mainguard Street, where Katie O’Halloran, along with Mayor of Galway Donal Lyons and Anthony Ryan, chairperson of the Galway City Business Association — presenters of the Galway Continental Christmas Market — will lead a carnival style parade including St Nicholas’ NS Choir, Renmore Pantomime, fire breathers, festive elves, and of course, the man in red himself guided by the Santa Express train, through Shop Street to the market in Eyre Square.

Activities on the main stage in Eyre Square will also begin at 5.30pm with Galway Bay FM’s Keith Finnegan as event MC leading the countdown, with musical entertainment from Sean Costello and Frank Naughton, aka Duo Vocis.

At 6pm the Christmas lights will be officially switched on by Katie O’Halloran together with Mayor Donal Lyons. Festivities will continue with a performance by the ever-popular Amazing Apples. Galway Swing will also entertain the crowds, and an on-street bucket collection is organised for Voices for Down Syndrome, a charity set up to provide speech and language therapy for children and adults in Galway city and county with Down syndrome.

Now in its fifth year, the Galway Continental Christmas Market is the longest running market in the country. This year’s market will operate from Friday November 21 to Monday December 22, with Eyre Square transformed into a magical festive wonderland, with traders from Ireland and across Europe selling a host of crafts, festive food, and drinks.

Stalls will be brimming with festive gift ideas, tempting treats, and a jovial ambience. There will be lots for children to see and do with Santa in residence in his grotto, an array of amusements, and the Santa Express offering tours of the city by train.

The German Bierkeller will offer a wide range of traditional fine German beers, Oktoberfest activities, and lederhosen a plenty. A programme of live entertainment is also planned at the market main stage including carol signing, musical performances, and family entertainment throughout the festive season.

The market will be open Monday to Wednesday from 12 noon to 8pm, and Thursday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm.

To keep up to date on all the details of the market visit www.galwaychristmasmarket.ie, like GalwayContinentalChristmasMarket on Facebook, follow @GalwayXmasMkt on Twitter, or connect with GalwayChristmasMarket on Instagram.

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