Christmas markets have become “extremely difficult” to set up in Ireland, according to one of the country’s leading organisers.
The producer of the Galway Christmas Market, Maria Moynihan-Lee, said alcohol licenses and energy, were two of the biggest issues organisers face.
Ms Moynihan joined Moncrieff today to share some of the main logistical challenges that come with inner-city markets.
“We are basically building a small town in the middle of [Galway] city for two months every year, and then it has to be taken down overnight,” she said.
The event, which has been ongoing in Galway City every Christmas since 2010, was a “hard sell” at first, according to Ms Moynihan.
“There was huge resistance but it has turned out to be the best thing that has happened to the city centre in many years,” she said.
“It really is appreciated by businesses because it brings so many visitors to the city, in a time when we hear about retail being in decline - footfall is absolutely vital.”
Ms Moynihan said selling mulled wine and other festive drinks was a problem in Ireland.
“It’s difficult to overcome in Ireland but if you travel to any of the other Christmas markets in Europe every other chalet will be selling mulled wine, buttered rum, or hot cider,” she said.
“In Ireland, we have licensing laws and they require anything of that nature to be licensed. Many cities also have bylaws in place to stop drinking on the streets.
“This is a key issue behind why there aren’t more Christmas markets in Ireland. We do need festive hot drinks and, without them, it’s really going to be very difficult.”
Stephen's Green Market
Ms Moynihan said she was involved in the Stephen’s Green Christmas market in 2015, which only lasted one year.
“There were tremendous numbers in attendance and it made a wonderful buzz,” said Ms Moynihan.
“Businesses were hugely welcome of it, particularly on Grafton Street. I know once businesses reported a huge increase in footfall that year.”
Unfortunately, there was “no possibility” of repeating the event as it was forced to make way for a new Luas development the following year.
Ms Moynihan said securing energy is a big concern for organisers.
“Open spaces [in cities] just don’t have open spaces with access to electricity and water,” she said.
“In European markets, they all have posts in the ground to plug into with easy access to water.
“This year in Galway we’ve almost entirely powered by mains electricity, we’ve gone from having four ‘dirty diesel’ generators to having just one.
“It’s vitally important as it makes for a much better experience without the noise, smell or the environmental impact.”
Ms Moynihan added that Ireland still has a lot of work to do if it is to catch up with other European Christmas markets.