Business group all set for busy festive season
It’s officially Christmas in Roscommon town following the switching on of the Christmas lights last Sunday evening and President of Roscommon Chamber, Cáitlin McConn, is delighted with how the event went.
“I think last Sunday’s switch-on was even more successful (than in previous years). I was lucky enough to be up on stage and looking out, it definitely looked to me to be the biggest crowd that I have seen over the last few years. Other people sitting beside me including Denis Naughten and Orla Leyden seemed to be saying the same thing.
“The weather had a huge impact. Looking back at photographs of last year, everyone had umbrellas out and people came into town at the last minute and then were gone straight away. I don’t know how long people were waiting to talk to Santa last Sunday but they were happy to do it. It was a stunning night,” she said.
Cáitlín, who is a joint-owner of JJ Harlow’s, reserved special praise for the town’s Christmas lights committee.
“The lights look amazing and the people involved in the committee are all volunteers. They are all running their own businesses so Sunday is the only day that is kind of quiet for them. They’re out from October and meeting up even before that; they are just amazing. There was some fundraising done in the past and I know that money was collected where the free hot chocolate was being
given out last Sunday but in general the lights are funded by the businesses in the town. The businesses are great for funding it and it’s great that members of the public contribute too,” she said.
Ahead of a busy period in the town, the Chamber President said that using the town’s free car parks would increase the footfall in local businesses.
“I know that our free parking is bringing people in from other counties because it’s so much easier and cheaper to shop here. In order to maintain that and to encourage visitors to stop off in Roscommon, people need to be using the council car park which can be accessed from the roundabout off Church Street/Abbey Street. It’s well lit and safe with CCTV and it’s so close to the centre of town.
“The one-hour green spaces that have gone in are having such a dramatic effect on the businesses around them and it’s having a knock-on effect on the businesses around town. People are telling me that there is such a huge increase in footfall into shops. So we really want to encourage people that are coming into town for the day to use the council car park which is located behind Rogue & Co. and Gleeson’s and to keep traffic moving in the town centre.
“Fair play to Roscommon County Council for the work they’ve put into parking in the town, they really have to be commended. The resurfacing work was badly needed too and the looks fantastic now,” she said.
In terms of pre-Christmas promotions and events, there is plenty happening in Roscommon town once again this year.
“I know the AIB are running their Christmas Window competition again and that really adds to the vibe around town at Christmas. That’s another reason we are encouraging everyone to have their windows done up and there are prizes there for those who take part. It also encourages people coming to town to go into shops.
“The Roscommon Chamber is running its competition again with the Roscommon People and that has been hugely successful over the last few years. Interestingly enough the winners of that competition come from everywhere so it is drawing a lot of interest not only in Roscommon town but also in neighbouring counties too.
“In the run-up to Christmas, most businesses will be open late and on Sundays so that should relive some of the stress in terms of shopping! The Roscommon Solstice Choir are also scheduled to perform a carol service on Saturday, December 22nd in The Square so that will really add to the Christmas feel that weekend,” she added.
Ms. McConn expressed her thanks to local businesses who provided free hot drinks at last Sunday’s Christmas lights switch-on as well as all those who help to make Christmas magical in Roscommon town each year.
“We had Rogue, Molloy’s, Gleeson’s, The Peppermill, Harrison’s Coffee House and Jackson’s providing free hot drinks and also Comfy Café who were doing the same from their window. They raised money from it for the lights, which is fantastic,” she said.
A safe town
Local businesses recently met with the local Gardaí to highlight safety and security measures ahead of the busy Christmas period and while a new CCTV system is in operation, Cáitlín says the Roscommon is one of the safest towns in Ireland.
“We met with the Gardai as we normally do this time of year just to highlight the CCTV on Main Street and the fact that the text alert service between businesses is up and running. Everyone is doing their bit to make sure that Roscommon town stays as safe as it’s always been.
“The fact that it’s such a safe town and the convenience of free parking really makes a difference. I would encourage everyone to shop local this year and to support the local economy. We have everything here, so why go anywhere else?” she concluded.