A major New Year’s Eve celebration in O’Connor Square got the green light at last Thursday’s Tullamore Municipal District meeting. The proposed event, championed by Councillor Tony McCormack, could see the hugely popular Chasing Abbey as the headline act.
Cllr McCormack said the event, which would cost in the region of €27,000 to stage, could attract people not just from Tullamore but also Athlone, Mullingar, Portlaoise, Longford, Ballinasloe and further afield. He proposed that €25,000 from the Entente Florale competition be used to fund the festivities.
“It would be a great opportunity for us to celebrate our future. 2020 is a great opportunity and could be used by Offaly County Council as a way of saying thank you to the business owners and the people of Tullamore for putting up with the disruption in the town during the street enhancement works. 2020 is also the 400th anniversary of the signing of the charter for Tullamore to become a town,” he said
“We have all seen the celebration in Sydney Harbour or the dropping of the ball in Times Square and more recently in Custom House Quay in Dublin while I don’t expect celebrations like that in Tullamore, it would be something on those lines, hopefully it will be something we can repeat going forward,” he added.
Cllr McCormack said that “at the moment if you ask any publican or hotelier they will tell you that New Year’s Eve is one of the quieter nights over the holiday period. It used to be one of the busier nights. But ever since the Millennium, people party at home. Having a celebration night like this would attract people from all over the Midlands to come to Tullamore, to call into restaurants go into our bars and hotels. It would be from 10.30pm to 12.30 pm so it would be a two hour event. It wouldn’t take away from the pubs, it will also be a family event. I’ve been lucky to get a couple of things tentatively and provisionally in place. We are looking at having a general local band, then a national band like Chasing Abbey. I think it would be fantastic to have Chasing Abbey for such an event. I’ve got them at a very good price. The whole event will cost in the region of €27,000 including sound, stage, screen. This will include entertainment, any advertising, or marketing. It’s ready to go if I get the okay from councillors. We are late for funding from the Arts Council and Bord Failte, that’s why we need to get the whole amount. I know we have €25,000 from the Entente Florale. I’m asking if we can get that €25,000. I would like to hand this over to Offaly County Council so it’s not a Tony McCormack project, it’s for the town. For the people of the town. I know it won’t pay any of the bills or rates and it won’t make up for the loss of revenue this year but it will be a thank you to all the businesses and residents for putting up with what we have done while the street enhancement was going on,” he concluded.
Councillor Frank Moran said he was sceptical at the last meeting but now that he had better insight he supported it.
Cllr Declan Harvey thought it was a great idea. “It’s the shot in the arm that we need, the timing is right. Hopefully the Square will be ready. Tony went off and did his work and I think it should be a runner and I fully support it,” he said.
Cllr Sean O’Brien said it was a “fantastic idea and coming at the right time. It’s a great way to pull the town together. It gives something back to the businesses. I think it will take off, it has worked in Dublin there is no reason why it shouldn’t work here. It will put Tullamore back in the spotlight in the Midlands back to a time when Tullamore was the king of entertainment in the Midlands we want to get back to there,” he enthused.
Councillor Danny Owens was also supportive. “It will be good for the town, I think it’s a great idea I hope the Square is finished,” he worried.
Cllr Ken Smollen, said he too would like to be associated with the motion. “Well done Tony on that. It will be fantastic for the town. I would like it put on record that I said something positive,” he concluded.
Councillor Moran finished by saying that approval had been given from members that €25,000 allocated to the Entente Florale but which subsequently came back to the Municipal District will now be put aside for the New Year’s celebrations.