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Ice rink skates through in time for Christmas

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WINTER WONDERLAND The Mall in Castlebar is set to be transformed by an Ice Rink this Christmas. Pic: GoogleMaps

Anton McNulty

An ice rink will be located at The Mall in Castlebar for six weeks over the Christmas season, and the local Chamber of Commerce expects tens of thousands of people to visit the county town during the period. The rink was described as ‘a game changer’ for Castlebar by Cllr Martin McLoughlin, Cathaoirleach of the Castlebar Muncipal District, after councillors gave its location the final go-ahead at last week’s meeting.
In July, councillors had clashed over the proposal to locate the ice rink on The Mall, with Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne claiming The Mall would be ‘dug up’ as a result, while there were also concerns over whether the town would be able to cater with the increased traffic.
Councillors voted in favour of locating the ice rink on The Mall, but the matter was put on the agenda for last week’s municipal meeting to discuss the proposal.
Mr John McHale, Head of Castlebar Municipal District, told those at the meeting that the grass will be covered and that the operators will leave The Mall in as pristine condition as they found it. He said that similar ice rinks had been placed on a green area in Dublin and no damage had been caused.

Stipulations
Cllrs Frank Durcan and Michael Kilcoyne, who had previously expressed reservations about locating the rink in The Mall, said they were not against the proposal so long as stipulations were attached.
Cllr Kilcoyne wanted assurance that indemnity insurance was in place in case there was an injury and or The Mall was damaged. Cllr Durcan was concerned that there would not be enough car parking spaces in the town to deal with the volume of ice skaters rink and did not want Castlebar jammed up with traffic on Christmas week.
Anne Sweeney, Engineer with Mayo County Council, said that there should be no concerns regarding traffic as the ice rink will operate in the evening when the car parks should be free. She added that the council offices will be closed at the time which will free up spaces and she also confirmed that the Military Barracks will be opened for parking to cater for increased traffic.
The decision by the Chamber of Commerce to bring the ice rink to Castlebar was lauded by many of the councillors with Cllr McLoughlin describing the ice rink as a game changer. Cllr Cyril Burke said he was not worried about traffic, as the town has many car parks, while Cllr Thérèse Ruane added that the lighting invested in The Mall had created a ‘fairytale wonderland’ experience.
In a statement released on its Facebook page, the Castlebar Chamber of Commerce it plans to build a ‘Christmas Experience’ around the rink, and will be inviting interested vendors, arts and crafts and gift traders to take out stalls.
The ice rink, they said, will be in place for the six weeks running up to Christmas and over the holidays.

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