IT'S SANTA WARS, Enniscorthy style. The man with the long beard has deserted his long running pitch in the Market Square but children need not despair. He will be on duty on the double in the run up to Christmas, with families offered a choice between the Enniscorthy Castle and Kilcannon.
For six years in a row, Santa's grotto was a regular highlight of the square as Kilcannon Industries and the Town Council promoted a joint venture. Now the council has decided to put a Claus in the Castle while Kilcannon is channelling its yuletide resources into a grotto at the garden centre.
A full size Thomas the Tank Engine is being shunted on to the lawn beside the Old Dublin Road to make sure that no-one will overlook the Kilcannon version. A supporting cast of Polar Bears and elves is also on standby to keep everyone entertained in comfort under the shelter of the garden centre roof.
Meanwhile, staff at the Castle are will be bidding to woo families with a more homely vision of Christmas, based on the Victorian celebration of the festival. They are preparing a toy museum to amuse the children as they wait for their audience with the man in the red suit.
'All of Enniscorthy will be magical!' declared garden centre manager Ben Bernie. 'The cabin in the square has had its time. We have created something magical and interesting in Kilcannon. It is a wonderland, just fantastic.'
The Kilcannon operation is stealing a march on its friendly rival by opening for business on Saturday, November 17 but, once up and running from December 2, the Castle will be open Thursday to Sunday, while the counter Claus will be available at weekends only.
'We are looking forward to pitching ourselves a little different to the rest,' said a Castle spokesperson, who revealed that parents will be able to book slots with Santa in advance.