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White Wonderland for Taste of Roscrea Christmas Festival

Thursday, 14 December 2017

White Wonderland for Taste of Roscrea Christmas Festival thumbnailWexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald pictured with Ann Keevey and members of Roscrea Age Friendly in Roscrea last week. MT50809PJW

THE HEART OF ROSCREA burst into festive life last weekend for the sixth annual Taste of Roscrea Christmas Festival, which saw the town centre thronged with a record number of visitors from all over the country.
People travelled from all corners of Ireland to attend the event, which saw Roscrea Castle and Damer House turn white with very convincing fake snow provided by Brides of Franc.
However, even the weather proved to be in seasonal humour for this year's event, when fake snow was unnecessary on Sunday after heavy snowfalls in Roscrea - adding greatly to the number of visitors who flocked to Ireland's third oldest town to sample the festive delights.
The highlight of this year's event for many families was the opportunity to visit Santa Claus in the Castle, which was booked out long before the event officially started and saw Santa himself stay in Roscrea for several more hours than originally planned - ensuring no child was disappointed before Santa set off for the return journey to the North Pole.
Children visiting Roscrea Castle to meet Santa could not believe their eyes, as their dream white Christmas winter wonderland unfolded before them, with plumes of beautiful soft snow perpetually falling, making it a Christmas event they will never forget.
Ruddy cheeked grown-ups were treated to a gallery of festive delights, with hot chocolate and seasonal delights available around every corner of the Christmas market erected in the grounds of the Castle, where a myriad of bargains and beautiful one-off pieces of handmade arts and crafts were available at every stall.
So many people visited the town that throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday it was difficult to find parking anywhere in the town centre, with several thousand people visiting the Festival on Saturday and Sunday, which proved to be the busiest days.
The event began on Thursday night with the Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town event which showcased almost 100 Roscrea businesses and throughout the weekend visitors immensely enjoyed the several planned events, such as the very popular Kilavilla Club Fashion Show featuring fashion available in Roscrea shops.
Stall trading was reported to be very good, with a good mix of local stands and others from around the country offering a very diverse range of delicacies and art and craft pieces.
The organisers faced some challenges on Sunday keeping the site and Castle Street's footpaths de-iced and safe for pedestrians, but despite the cold snap the turnout proved to be beyond the numbers expected.
“It was a fantastic few days in the town, we had the Road Safety Authority, horse and carriage, Snow by Franc and from the heavens, as people from near and far experienced the best the town has to offer," local Councillor and Chairman of the organising committee Michael Smith told the Tribune.
“I have spoken in the last number of days to many businesses and the Roscrea Chamber have expressed their delight to have seen the increased footfall to Roscrea. It was a massive under taking to transform the historic site of the Castle grounds, provide food and craft display accompanied with snow," he said.
Cllr Smith said many of the stall holders have already expressed an interest in attending again next year and the organising committee are already considering ways to grow and improve for next year.
The Chairman also remarked that local teenager Manus Heenan, who has brought back an old style of bread making once used by the monks of Mount St. Joseph's with his Abbey Bread from the Cistercian College, stole the show.
“The entrepreneurial spirit shown by this young man is a clear indication what can be achieved with a bit of grit and determination," Cllr Smith said.
The Chairman thanked Roscrea Lions Club who produced a Christmas Calendar full of beautiful photographs of the town supplied by local photographer Noel O'Meara, which is on sale until the new year and provides much needed funds for their Christmas food appeal.
The Chairman also had a special word of thanks for Santa's elves and helpers who welcomed all the girls and boys to the Castle and for all the businesses in Roscrea who took part in the Bank of Ireland event.
“As a small committee we would like to acknowledge the tremendous assistance from all our volunteers, Tipperary County Council, Office of Public Works, Roscrea Credit Union, North Tipperary Leader partnership, An Garda Siochana and the local Red Cross.
“We hope everyone enjoyed the few days and encourage people to shop local this year as it means so much as they enter into 2018," Cllr Smith said.

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