Kilkenny Borough Council has begun seeking an organiser for this year’s Christmas Market, but last year’s organiser says the council is risking the event’s success by leaving it too late in the day.
With nine weeks to go until the market would ideally open, traders still do not know who will be running it – nor has any market committee meeting taken place. Kilkenny Borough Council has announced it is now inviting ‘expressions of interest’ from people who would like a role in the event’s organisation.
However, Mary Merritt, who organised the market last year, says she is being contacted by prospective traders who are now choosing to book places in other markets instead, as more weeks go by. Town Clerk Brian Tyrrell has said that a decision on the issue will not be made until the October meeting of the borough council.
Last year’s Kilkenny market had 25 stalls, a small food area, a Santa’s cabin, and a carousel. Ms Merritt, who is also the chairperson of the Kilkenny Farmers’ Market, says the local authority is dragging its heels and that she is being ‘sidelined’.
“I have been told to hold off by the council,” she told the Kilkenny People.
“Every other county has their market organised weeks ago – Waterford already have their signs up. We haven’t even had a meeting.”
Ms Merritt says she has concerns over the potential success of the event, given the narrowing timeframe left in which to organise things.
“These things don’t happen overnight – you can’t just put it together in four weeks,” she said.
“I am constantly getting phone calls from traders asking about it, and then having to tell them that I don’t know yet what’s happening. They are then going away and booking elsewhere.”
But both Mayor of Kilkenny Sean O’ hArgain, and the chairman of the Municipal Policy Committee Cllr Joe Reidy say that Ms Merritt’s fears are misplaced.
“She has nothing to be worried about,” said Cllr Reidy.
“Two months should be plenty of time. All of the infrastructure for this is there, the cabins etc. I don’t think anyone needs to be concerned about the timing.
“It is not her market – it has to be decided by the borough council, whether she is running it or not.”
At the September meeting of the borough council, Cllr Reidy informed the members of the MPC’s recommendations regarding ‘Christmas in Kilkenny’. The council agreed it would solicit expressions of interest from individuals and the local business community.
Ms Merritt has said that progress is too slow.
“I get very little information,” she said.
“We are waiting on promises, which is all we ever hear from the council. This is people’s livelihood. They ignore this for years, and now we can’t make a move without the MPC having a meeting.”
Town Clerk Brian Tyrrell`said that the council would make a decision at next month’s meeting.
“We are going to be advertising for expressions of interest in running the market in the coming days,” he said.
“That’s not to say that [Ms Merritt] won’t be doing it. This is just what the [council] members decided, and we are acting on it.”