Children’s eyes light up as Christmas sparks into life in Dublin

Families and shoppers come out in large numbers for switching-on ceremony

Thousands of people turn out to see Grafton Street and O'Connell Street Christmas lights switched on in Dublin city centre.

 

“Sanyt €5” a sign propped up outside the pop-up grotto in the cab of a horse and carriage on College Green reads.

“You’re after spelling Santy wrong,” a passer-by tells an elf collecting cash from frazzled-looking parents with wide-eyed children at their side.

“Ah sure it’s bleedin’ obvious who he is anyways,” the elf says in response as people pass on the way to Bewley’s to see a switch being flicked and the Christmas lights across the city spark into life.

Outside the coffee shop it is all elbows as shoppers jostle for the best place to watch the magic unfold.

The Dublin at Christmas procession on Grafton Street as the city’s Christmas lights are switched on. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times
The Dublin at Christmas procession on Grafton Street as the city’s Christmas lights are switched on. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

Kate Curley from Wicklow is here by accident. “We are doing a bit of shopping to release the stress from the exams,” the UCD languages student says. “We’ll stay around to see the lights going on but we’re not really too bothered. Sure we’ll see it on social media later anyway.”

The Connolly family from Tyrrelstown did not know about the lighting-up ceremony either but they are delighted to have found it.

“We’re big fans of Christmas,” says Antoinette, the mother. “I’m a nurse and not working on Christmas Day this year, so that’s enough for me,” she adds when asked what she would like from Santa this year.

“I know it’s coming earlier and earlier each year but I think it’s nice, it makes it nice and long,” says Sinéad Keegan from Blackrock, Co Dublin. “We’re Christmas nuts and can’t wait to get it started.”

She and her children Elizabeth (11) and Alex (7) are wearing their love of Christmas on their heads in the form of illuminated Santa hats. The father of the family, also Alex, hovers in the background, hatless. “He’s a right Grinch,” Sinéad says.

“He is very bold.”

A lump of coal for him this year so.

The family fall silent as a procession led by a flying Santa on a bike passes. Once he does, the lights go one and everyone starts heading towards the Spire to see the Christmas tree lit up.

Or at least they try to. “Clara, it’d help if you looked up and not down at your bleedin’ phone,” a man says as he pushes his way through the crown to the next point of illumination.

The river of people slows dramatically and people start getting tetchy.

Sienna Doyle and Teagan Flynn from the Lee Byrne Academy. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Sienna Doyle and Teagan Flynn from the Lee Byrne Academy. Photograph: Dave Meehan

By the time the flying Santa reaches O’Connell Bridge the crowd by the Spire has grown too big and gardaí step in to stop the procession heading across the river from the southside.

The crowd can just about hear the Christmas tree countdown taking place outside the GPO. Then the tree lights go on.

“Are they on? I can’t see anything,” a forlorn voice in the crowd says.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, you’re not missing much, it’s not exactly Disneyland up there,” a guard tells her.