What the new lighting might look like on the bridge.

Fundraising drive to help meet costs of new festive lighting

A fundraising drive spearheaded by Athlone Chamber of Commerce is underway to meet part of the likely costs of a major upgrade of Athlone's festive lighting.

The planned overhaul would dramatically improve Athlone's current Christmas lighting and provide a major shot in the arm for the visual appearance of the town.

A planned overall €200,000 investment will require €25,000 part-funding to be raised by the local business community.

An application for funding for the remainder of the cost is currently being considered by Westmeath LEADER, with a decision due shortly.

See promo video of the lighting here:

The lighting project is the brainchild of the Festivals and Events Project Group.

This group is chaired by Shay Hamilton of Athlone Tidy Towns, and it includes representatives from the Athlone River Festival, All Ireland Drama Fringe Festival, Athlone Christmas Market, Athlone Canal Heritage, Athlone No 1 Battery Heritage Group, St Patrick's Day Parade committee, Athlone Agri Show and Westmeath County Council.

The group in July last sought bids for the supply of new high-quality Christmas lighting, after complaints in previous years that the town's festive lights were sub-par and for the provision of Christmas market cabins for use in the town. 

Athlone Chamber of Commerce is leading the fundraising drive to secure the necessary €25,000 local contribution towards the overall cost.

The project promises to revolutionise Athlone's festive lighting and to encourage greater numbers to visit, shop and stay in the town.

A central element of the €200k project is the installation of new Christmas lighting from Behan's corner at Irishtown through the town centre as far as Dooley's Westend at the bottom of Connaught Street. Christmas lighting would also be erected along some of the key side streets, such as Northgate Street and Gleeson Street. Special pole lighting would be provided along the town bridge.

Two flagship illuminated Christmas trees, at Market Square at St Peter' and Paul's Church and Count John McCormack Square, will be erected, whilst a series of 'uplighters' which bounce coloured lights upwards from ground level are also proposed.

These will provide an opportunity for year-round decorative lighting that could, for example, illuminate the trees along Elliott Road (formerly Accommodation Road), between the Luan Gallery and the Railway Bridge.

A view of what the uplighters might look like in Athlone.

A series of 20 festival trading huts, which would be permanently available in Athlone, are also part of the plan as is the provision of flags, signs and bunting as well as light-based installations on the walls of Athlone Castle.

Athlone Chamber of Commerce president John McGrath said the project would provide a further boost to Athlone on foot of the upgrade of Church Street in Athlone, the works on the streetscape on the west side and the three potential further projects identified under urban regeneration.

Appealing for the traders and business interests in the town to support the initiative, he said: “I think it is important that the business community come to the table to support the festival and Christmas infrastructure in partnership with the grant aid available through the Leader programme.”

He said if funding approval was secured and matching funding generated locally, the project would be rolled out for this Christmas.

The Chamber is hoping that businesses that may not be located in the town centre, but which benefit from Christmas and festival trading, would see fit to contribute to the current fundraising.