Christmas Day to start dry with rain to follow


Showers, but no snow, have been forecast by Met Éireann for Christmas Day.

St Stephen's Day will be much the same but for those who do not wish to remain beside the fire, the Bank Holiday marks the start of a busy calendar of sporting and cultural events.

Christmas Day will start dry and bright, according to Met Éireann. But cloud is due to spread from the south, bringing rain to Munster and Connacht, becoming heavy by evening.

St Stephen's Day will bring more showers, with the possibility of long spells of rain in the north and east, thus casting a cloud over many of that day's traditional events.

The Wran Boy Celebration in Sandymount, Dublin, in aid of the Knights of Malta Hospital in Bethlehem, kicks off at O'Reilly's pub at 11 a.m., while the first day of Leopardstown's four-day racing festival starts at 12.25 p.m.

The Christmas Day GOAL Mile, in aid of the third world charity, takes place at nine venues throughout the State tomorrow.

The flagship event will be held at UCD, Belfield, Dublin, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Other venues are: Santry Athletics Club, Lucan Harriers Athletics Club, Mullingar Harriers Athletics Club, Longford Connolly Barracks, Dangan Sports Ground, NUI Galway, Offaly Tullamore Harriers Club, Cork Institute of Technology and Kerry/Castleisland Athletics Track.

Various fundraising swims are to take place, including the traditional Christmas Day plunge at the Forty Foot at Sandycove, Dublin, from 8 a.m. onwards.

The anti-war Peace Alliance is holding a peace vigil from noon to 1 p.m. outside the Department of Foreign Affairs, St Stephen's Green. The event is being used as a focus for opposition to the use of Shannon Airport as a stop for US troops en route to Iraq.

Another Christmas Day protest is being organised by the men's group Unmarried Fathers of Ireland and Separated Parents of Ireland, which will hold a demonstration on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, between noon at 1 p.m. to highlight grievances with the family law system.

Christmas safety advice has been issued for the occasion by a variety of agencies, including Safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board, which has urged people to ensure turkey and other food is cooked properly for Christmas meals. The National Safety Council has described Christmas as a "high risk" period for fire outbreaks in the home. The council has also issued a warning to road users to exercise extreme caution over the Christmas period. It said 12 people were killed in crashes over the period December 20th to 31st, 2001, according to provisional figures.

The National Safety Council chief executive, Mr Pat Costello, said roads were "particularly dangerous" at this time of year due to a dramatic increase in the number of road users.

The council said drivers should watch out for revellers travelling on the roads, and drive with dipped headlights during dark days. It also emphasised that people should not drink and drink, nor let others do so.

Health boards have urged people to check on elderly relatives and neighbours to ensure they are safe, warm and have all necessary supplies. They also urged people to be careful when drinking, as alcohol-related injuries prove to be a major burden on the health services over Christmas.

Repak is encouraging people to recycle waste over the Christmas period, during which time, it says, the amount of packaging waste generated in Ireland increases by 30 per cent. It says people should separate recyclable materials from other waste, and try to save and reuse wrapping paper.

Bus Éireann said it expected to carry up to 200,000 passengers during the festive period. Normal weekday services will operate today, with some cancellations. A limited service will operate on St Stephen's Day on principal Expressway routes, Cork suburban and other routes. There will be no city services in Galway, Limerick and Waterford, and no town services in Dundalk, Drogheda, Athlone, Sligo and Navan.