Monday 5 December 2016

Band cancelled at Grafton Street Christmas lights ceremony over safety concerns as 15k attend

Grainne Loughran

Published 13/11/2016 | 21:33

Members of the public during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The band due to play at the Grafton Street Christmas lights ceremony was cancelled due to safety concerns, as 15,000 people turned up for the event.

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The event ended earlier than planned and without the scheduled performances by Hermitage Green, Glen and Ronan and the cast of the Gaiety Panto.

Festive revellers took to Twitter to complain.

Organisers estimated that up to 15,000 people attended the event, which ended earlier than planned and without the scheduled performance by Hermitage Green.

Lauren Walsh (10) with her mother Karla Walsh both from Greystones during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Lauren Walsh (10) with her mother Karla Walsh both from Greystones during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

DublinTown cited safety reasons and the huge crowds in attendance as the reason for the early finish to the evening.

Barry Murphy of Hermitage Green said that although they were “honoured” to be asked to play, they were left disappointed when their performance didn’t go ahead.

“We were very disappointed we didn’t get to play. Obviously that’s what you want to do in those situations, there were more than 10,000 people there from what it looked like. But we completely understood the situation. I think they were a bit overwhelmed by how many people turned up. I think it was a good call to try to finish up early and get out of there,” he said.

A statement from DublinTown said that “The turning on of the Grafton Street Christmas lights captured the imagination of Dubliners to a greater extent then ever before and coupled with the mild weather the crowds were larger than anticipated.

Members of the public during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Members of the public during the Christmas lighting ceremony on Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"Due to numbers and in the interest of safety and comfort, organisers decided to shorten the usual programme format meaning Hermitage Green, Glenn&Ronan and the cast of the Gaiety Panto didn't appear on stage. Also due to the large crowd organisers were conscious that those at the back of the crowd were unable to fully hear and enjoy the performances.”

The city’s main shopping street got a white Christmas when confetti and snow machines were turned on as the band flipped the switch and lit up the street.

Santa hats and Christmas jumpers abounded despite the unusually warm weather as thousands gathered to see stilt walkers, street performers and bands start the festive season.

98FM presenter Luke O’Faolain co-hosted the event with his Big Breakfast co-host Steven Cooper.

“Everything’s a lovely set up and officially it’s Christmas in Dublin,” Luke told the Herald last night.

“I loved it. My little girl, I could see her over to left, and when the Christmas lights went on it was absolutely magical. Normally when everyone turns around when you’re talking to them it’s quite rude, but everyone was turning around to look at the Christmas lights.”

“It’s officially now for me the start of Christmas,” he said.

The Halleluia Gospel Choir and The Swing Cats took to the stage to entertain the crowd with Christmas carols and swinging tunes that got the audience clapping.

Kids sat on their parents’ shoulders to get a glimpse of the festivities and onlookers from the upper floors of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre craned their necks to get a good view of the stage.

“It’s become a thing now, it’s a memory. People come in with their kids to see that magic moment when the lights come on and it’s something they remember,” said Clyde Carroll of DublinTown.

The cast of the Gaiety panto even took a break from rehearsals to watch the lights turn on.

The actors from Robin Hood and his Merry Men have been worn out by “gruelling” rehearsals, but were glad to take a rest to watch the lighting up ceremony.

Joe Conlon who plays Nanny Knickerbocker Glory said that “It was great fun, great craic. It was absolutely gorgeous.”

“We were in all day yesterday and we were in early this morning because we had costume fittings, and the lads were out yesterday doing archery lessons.”

More crowds are expected in the city on Thursday evening as The Riptide Movement join DublinTown to turn on the Henry Street Christmas lights.

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