The atmosphere was electric in Granard last Sunday afternoon as the town’s Christmas Markets kicked off with gusto.
Santa arrived safely from Lapland to the north Longford town and dozens of children queued up outside his temporary abode at the Granard Motte Development Centre on the outskirts of the town with the excitement of the impending visit reaching fever pitch at times.
Local producers and manufacturers displayed all the very best of their wares at the centre, which was thronged with people since early afternoon.
There was lots of entertainment too, from local singers and musicians and from the celebratory beeping of car horns as the victorious Mullinalaghta St Columba’s team, and many of their supporters travelled back home through Granard after winning the Leader Cup final at Pearse Park.
One of the highlights of this year’s event in Granard were the handmade sleigh and reindeers which were created by the local Men’s Shed Group.
This group is run by Lus na Gréine Family Resource Centre and manager Eileen Finan spoke to the Leader about the initiative.
“This year Granard Men’s Shed made a beautiful sleigh and reindeers; it’s absolutely fabulous and the kids love it,” she added.
“They are all very excited about getting their photographs taken in it.”
Granard Men’s Shed was established two years ago in the north Longford town and currently has seven or so members.
It has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2014 and is one of many community development initiatives that continue to stand the test of time in Granard.
Meanwhile, William O’Connor - one of the creators of the sleigh - said that it took about a week to complete and the team started off from scratch with just three sheets of timber.
“It took a week to finish off and was painted just the other day, in fact we were here most of the night finishing it off,” he laughed.
“We were delighted to be able to do this for Lus na Gréine.”
Back at Lus na Gréine, never more so was the season of goodwill more appreciated than it is this year.
With a shortage of funding Ms Finan said that this was the time of year when everyone was provided with an opportunity to look closer at the communities in which they lived and at the great work that was being done.
“It was a great year and Lus na Gréine won a Pride of Place award which was a wonderful achievement for all of us,” she added.
“The work that we do at Lus na Gréine is really important in any community but while Christmas is a wonderful time, it is important to remember that there are lots of families struggling and there are lots of challenges and bereavements in people’s lives.”
Ms Finan went on to say that often people just needed support from others and that was where she felt Lus na Gréine came in.
“Communities need to come together, and work together.” she added.
“What we would say is that the services Lus na Gréine provides are essential to our community and we do need support in achieving our aims.”
And when all the buzz of the Markets later came to an end, it was up to John V’s corner where the official switching on of Granard’s Christmas lights took place.
It was a festive day all round as carol singers and musicians from the local community sang their hearts out and the people of Granard cheered on their newly and beautifully lit town.