Miracle toddler to switch on Limerick Christmas lights this Sunday

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Thousands expected in city centre to witness brand new Christmas lights being switched on by 3-year-old Neil Shanahan.

Santa, singers and snow will sprinkle festive magic on city centre

The annual magical unwrapping of the festive season in Limerick will this Sunday be the most dazzling yet with a brand new €100,000 Christmas lights display to be turned on and a very special young hand pressing the switch.

One of the great hope stories of the year, 3- year-old Neil Shanahan, who miraculously survived a sixth storey balcony fall in the city in July, has been given the honour of switching on the Christmas lights with Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the ‘Light up Limerick’ switching on ceremony organised by Limerick City and County Council, in partnership with Limerick Chamber, which takes place on Sunday evening at 6pm outside Brown Thomas on O’Connell Street.

But pride of place will undoubtedly be given to the Farranshone boy, who has defied the odds by not alone surviving the fall but making a steady and remarkable recovery.

Neil, accompanied by his parents Martina and Mike, has made huge progress and will be centre stage in what will be an unforgettable evening in Limerick when a wide array of Christmas festivities will unfold with entertainment starting from 4:30p.m.

The highlight will be the switching on of the lights at 6p.m. but, prior to that, the throngs will be entertained by street performers and bands/singers, with soprano Sinéad O’Brien, Unity Gospel Choir and Jason Hennessy warming up the crowd ahead of the biggest cheer of the weekend in the city when the huge lights display switches on.

Santa himself will, of course, be present and there’s also a promise of snow to thicken the festive mood. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there is also a special surprise scheduled for the evening.

‘Light Up Limerick’ will this year involve miles of new LED lights following the €100,000 investment by the local authority this year in the brand new display that will send the Christmas cheer soaring right across the city centre.

Sunday is the starting point of a five week celebration that will also include, among other items (see www.limerick.ie/christmas for full details):

  • Musical Treats on O’Connell Street featuring carol singers, bands and choirs in the Urban Garden outside Penney’s from 3pm to 6p.m. on the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th, 11th December
  • Christmas Craft Fair - at Bedford Row on Saturday and Sunday, 3rd and 4th December from 12-7pm
  • Santa’s Post Box - on Bedford Row where elves will be busy collecting children’s wishes and dreams and where they can post that all important letter to Santa in plenty of time for Christmas. There will also be seasonal workshops hosting a feast of activities including Christmas tree decoration making, wrapping gifts, baking and story telling on 9th December from 2-7pm and the 10th and 11th December from 12-6pm.
  • Limerick on Ice – Ireland’s longest established ice-ring is back by hugely popular demand in Arthurs Quay Park.
  • The Enchanted Christmas Carriage - take in the magic of Limerick at Christmas from the comfort of festive horse drawn carriage
  • A host of live music at Dolan’s and Live at the Big Top
  • Ten Days of Christmas themed markets at the Limerick Milk Market – 15th to 24thDecember
  • Christmas at King John’s Castle and a host of magical Santas and pantos across Limerick
  • Shannon Airport Christmas Racing Festival – Monday 26th to Thursday 29th December 

The Christmas programme in Limerick is being co-ordinated by Limerick City and County Council Arts Office and the Office of Communications and Marketing with help from Grooveyard Event Management and GoldieFish events.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said: “Christmas is a special time, not least for the very young and we will have a very special young man in Neil Shanahan with us here on Sunday evening to turn on the lights. Limerick has had a great year in terms of economic progress and we have a lot to celebrate. Neil’s miraculous recovery is one of the great stories of the year and he is a real beacon of hope for all to latch onto, not least at Christmas.”

Said Laura Ryan, Head of Communications and Marketing at Limerick City and County Council: “Limerick is undergoing a real renaissance at the moment and, in keeping with that, Limerick City and County Council is investing more heavily than ever in turning it into one of the top Christmas playgrounds in the country this year. People who come to Limerick this Christmas, including from neighbouring counties and further afield, will get a real sense of celebration from the moment they turn into the city centre. Christmas has always been special in Limerick and this year it will be more than ever and with an open invitation to all to come and enjoy.”

Said Limerick Chamber CEO James Ring“We have much to celebrate in Limerick today as it’s a city very much on the up and Limerick City and County Council, supported by Limerick Chamber, is making sure that the rise in sentiment and confidence here permeates Christmas also. Whether it’s coming to shop or socialise in Limerick this Christmas, people will definitely feel the air of celebration.”

See Limerick.ie/Christmas for full details of Christmas in Limerick.

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