STILL STANDING Mirren Cawley, Shona Kennedy, Martha Walsh and Lily Muldowney from Westport at the Mayo Ice Skating Rink at the Mall, Castlebar. Pic: Michael Donnelly
The Christmas spirit was alive and well at The Mall in Castlebar on Friday evening last.
The ice-rink located there has brought a real energy to the town this Christmas and when we popped in it was easy to see why.
Eight stalls located outside the ice-rink brought a real Christmas market feel to the place while inside excitement abounded as kids and their parents took to the ice.
Well, the kids were excited but most of the parents were clearly nervous. The young ones were putting adults to shame, gracefully skating around the ice as if they were born doing it.
But many of the parents showed all the grace of a new born foal, nervously hanging onto the perimeter rail as they tried to stay upright. Some succeeded, though not all!
The ice rink opened on November 24 and is open Wednesday through Sunday though it will open on Tuesday also on December 19 and 26.
“It has been going well so far,” Jarlath McHale, Manager of the ice-rink told The Mayo News. “We had two sell-out sessions last week and one the week before. We can take 150 people maximum at a time so they’re good numbers,” he said.
People have been coming from all over Mayo and Connacht and there has been visitors from as far away as Monaghan and Tipperary coming to Castlebar to experience Christmas on ice in the town.
And the benefit to that for the Castlebar Chamber of Commerce backed initiative is a spin-off for shops in the town.
“There has been a very positive response to it. For the whole thing to be a success it needs to benefit the whole town, not just the ice rink itself and when you see so many shops in the town telling you they are busier, then it is a success,” said Mr McHale.
“There is a great buzz around for it, downtown. The hope would be people would come to town to come here and do their Christmas shopping downtown and that appears to be happening. It is giving people another good reason to come to Castlebar,” he said.
Secondary schools have been coming in the mornings during the week and kids of all ages were having the time of their lives on Friday evening.
Jarlath McHale is keen to point out that they enforce ‘stringent safety procedures’. The ice is cleaned and smoothed over every hour. Accidents are inevitable so care is required. There are support sledges for those who want to ease themselves into it. And, as Cory Kilbane says, the perimeter wall is always there too!
The ice rink is open until January 7 and the target is to breakeven and continue next Christmas.
“We’re hopeful that we will manage to break even and, if so, that makes it more likely the ice-rink will be back next year,” added Jarlath McHale.