City centre dazzles as Christmas lights switch is flicked

Michael O'Regan: Has sold the 'Irish Examiner' and 'Evening Echo' on St Patrick's Street for the last 54 years. Picture: Clare Keogh

The weather gave an early present to the thousands of people who gathered in Cork City last night for the turning on of the Christmas lights.

With torrential showers forecast for the day, there were fears the event could be rained out. Those fears were nearly realised as, on the dot of 6pm and just as the ceremony was due to get under way, light rain descended.

However, people barely had time to hastily put up their umbrellas before the rain stopped and stayed away for the remainder of the event.

To get the assembled thousands in the festive spirit before the lights were turned on, members of the Academy of Popular Music played an excellent set of seasonal songs interspersed with popular hits including a One Direction song which was so good that even the too-cool-for-such-a-band teenagers applauded at the end.

The lights were turned on by Cork stalwarts past and present. On stage, were Michael O’Regan, who has sold the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo on St Patrick’s Street for the last 54 years, and Cork’s All-Ireland winning ladies football and camogie captains Briege Corkery and Anna Geary.

Before the switch was flicked, Cork City Council’s director of corporate and external affairs informed the crowd that the chief electrician John O’Sullivan, affectionately known as Johnny Sull, who has overseen the lights for most of the last 40 years, was retiring.

“He is a star, an absolute star, I don’t know what we will do (without him) next year,” she said.

As the lights were being turned on, the president of the Cork Chamber Gillian Keating called on people to visit the city to do their Christmas shopping and take advantage of the choice and value available.

“The Christmas period is a crucial time in the retail calendar and I hope that people take the opportunity to support the businesses that maintain local employment and retain money in the local economy,” she said.


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