Santa’s triumphant arrival at Plaza

Cashel Winter Wonderland continues for a second week, with late night opening in town from this Thursday. Remember there is free parking in town after 6pm and at weekends, Cashel is ready for Christmas business is the message from the Cashel Chamber of Commerce.

Cashel Winter Wonderland continues for a second week, with late night opening in town from this Thursday. Remember there is free parking in town after 6pm and at weekends, Cashel is ready for Christmas business is the message from the Cashel Chamber of Commerce.

Cashel’s Santa on the Plaza 2012 “was a triumph” said Chamber President Sean Laffey speaking as the final bits of tinsel were swept off the floor in Mikey Ryan’s at 7.30pm on Saturday last.

“It had been a tough week for us, there was some negative publicity over the new lights, so much so that at one stage it looked as though we might not have the lights to switch on today. My colleague Noel Fahy was in last minute negotiations on Friday night to save the situation.

He came up trumps and I’m sure the town will thank him for his cool head. So far the feedback about the new lights has been very good, they are certainly a huge improvement on last year’s dim showing. And it’s stage one of a three-year upgrade so we hope to extend the lights to other areas of the town next year.

“We had a fantastic response to the Santa on the Plaza event, which officially kicks off Cashel’s Christmas Celebrations. The event included a visit to Santa of course, a chat with Mrs Claus in her kitchen, arts and crafts in the Heritage Centre, a free balloon from Tully’s Hallmark which was a great hit with the children.

“We had the Cashel Brass Band, The Dr O’Hurley pipe band on the plaza to entertain us and the choir from St. John The Baptist National Girl’s School were superb under the direction of their principal Mrs. Mary Andrews.

“There are dozens of people I’d like to thank for making it all go so well, Breda Stroms and Ted Fahey for the use of Mikey Ryan’s.

“Surely one of the best locations for a Santa day anywhere in Ireland; Geraldine Laffey for co-ordinating the day; P J Quinlan and Cashel Carriage Tours for bringing Santa into town as we just didn’t have enough snow for the sleigh to work properly; Maria Neavyn and all the Transition Year students for their wonderful help, they really got into the spirit of the day and were exceptional this year.

“Olivia Quinlan and her staff at the Heritage Centre were so accommodating, I’d like to thank Mickey, Mark, Carmel and Jamie. Thanks are due to Miriam and June from June Molony and Associates who worked tirelessly throughout the day and helped create the Cashel Winter Wonderland Brochure. We are also very grateful to Wally Ryan for all her help and advice leading up to the event. Finally a huge thanks to Cian Laffey and Shaun Leahy who had the very cold job of manning the ticket stand and the sound desk in the tent on the plaza.

“It was a day of pure magic for all the children who came along, our initial estimate suggests there were over 200 children who visited Santa. One touching moment came when one of the senior elves said she remembered visiting Santa seven years ago, when you get those types of memories you know you have a tradition to look after. The magic continued into the night as Santa and the elves accompanied by the Pipe Band made a farewell walk to the Church to close Santa on the Plaza 2012.”

There is much more planned for Cashel in the coming weekends, with the action back on the Plaza and the Heritage Centre this coming Saturday when the Heritage Trust will host a Heritage Christmas Workshop for folks of all ages. The excellent Armagh Rhymers are back in town this week, giving workshops in the national schools, performing in Foley’s on Thursday and Fahey’s on Friday with a street show on Saturday at noon on the Plaza.

“Another, unique event is the recording of carols and Christmas songs from the Vicar’s Choral on the Rock of Cashel this Thursday evening. The Carols will be videoed and broadcast into the town next week. There are all sorts of things on, including a full programme of activities in the library. For anyone thinking of asking Santa for a puppy for Christmas we will have a special workshop for dog lovers in the Heritage Centre at 1pm on Saturday. It will be a great introduction to responsible pet ownership.

“Come along to the Heritage Christmas Activity Day in the Tourist Office on Saturday, December 15, and the Armagh Rhymers on the Plaza at Noon. Boys and girls can collect their Santy photographs from the Tourist Office on Saturday, December 15, too. Don’t forget the Junior Cup Cake Challenge in the library from noon on Saturday.

“All you have to do is find or dream up the perfect recipe for cup cakes. Buy your ingredients for the cup cakes, these should come from at least three different Cashel shops, you need proof of purchase receipts with each entry. No more than two of your ingredients can come from the same shop.

“Bake your cup cakes so they are perfect and fresh for the afternoon of Friday, December 21, then bring them along to the Folk and Food Marquee in the Friar Street Car Park, for a taste test and judging. Points will be awarded for taste, presentation, and a sense of the season.

Once again remember the Chamber are doing all they can to promote Cashel as a major shopping and tourist destination.

The town’s retailers are backing the late night opening initiative and the new lights certainly add a great atmosphere to the town when the sun goes down