Christmas cheer to lift spirits of drenched locals

Brian McDonald

BUSINESS owners in flood-ravaged Ballinasloe yesterday refused to cancel Christmas.

Despite the swamping of retail outlets and around 100 homes and other properties throughout the town centre, traders were yesterday defiant in the face of the crisis.

Next week, the Christmas lights in the east Galway town will be switched on and all shops will be making an extra effort to introduce some badly-needed festive cheer.

Businesses unaffected by the flooding were coming to the aid of colleagues who had seen their properties disappear under the torrents which flowed through St Michael's Square and River Street after the River Suck burst its banks last Thursday.

Local hairdresser Lisa Hough, who was flooded out of her salon over the weekend, moved to a premises made available to her on Dunlo Street yesterday. Solicitors Hutchinson and Donaldson were also getting back to business at the old FBD Insurance premises on Sarsfied Road.

Damian Clarke, of Ballinasloe Chamber of Commerce was not closed for business.

He said: "The banks and supermarkets are all open and we will be switching on the Christmas lights next week.

"There has been great co-operation between the businesses here in the town and people have been helping out in whatever way they can. You get knocked down, but you have to get back up again."

A number of families forced out of their homes in Ballinasloe are currently being accommodated at St Bridget's Hospital and in a local hotel.


The Society of St Vincent de Paul in Ballinasloe has appealed for clothing and shoes for families who lost their belongings in the floods.

Elsewhere in Co Galway, the unprecedented flooding left a group of prison officers with a major headache. The officers were transporting prisoners from Castlerea Prison to a court hearing in Galway city when their van was trapped by the flood, and gardai were forced to come to the stranded prisoners' rescue and take them to court.

And while there was a drop in water levels in Claregalway yesterday, the area was bracing itself for further heavy rain last night.

In Gort, the devastation left many business owners facing ruin. Vast amounts of stock have been lost, while damage to uninsured properties in the run-up to the most important trading period of the year has left many admitting to a bleak future.

Throughout the county, major roads were either impassable or badly flooded and commuters yesterday reported massive delays on many routes.

Delays due to flooding were expected last night on the N84 road from Galway to Headford and the deluge made the N65 between Portumna and the Tipperary border impassable.