Christmas Lights 2014

Members are probably aware of a front page article published in the Carlow Nationalist about Carlow's Christmas lights 2014. Members were annoyed at both the tone and content of this article, particularly as neither the President or any board member was asked to comment on the issues that were reported. However, that would probably have taken the controversy out of the story and made it somewhat less sensational. The board met on Thursday evening to consider what actions might be taken, and chief among those was to contact you, our members, to outline the “real facts” of the events. We have also included at the end of this document a verbatim version of our communication that we have asked the Nationalist to publish, in case there are any editorial changes made.


County Carlow Chamber has been happy for many years to facilitate the process of

installing, removing and storing of Carlow lights. However, apart from the usual

contribution by members, the cost of this installation has always been borne by the Town Council, which is as it should be, as they are lights for the town and people of Carlow. County Carlow Chamber, being a not for profit voluntary organisation would never have had the resources to pay for putting them up and taking them down. It is a very serious cost.


In 2013, County Carlow Chamber sought and secured the funding that allowed Carlow, Bagnelstown and Tullow to replace old, inefficient and often broken stock with new state of the art, energy efficient Christmas Lights. There is a misconception out there that the Chamber received money, whereas we got new lights that still have to be put up and taken down and stored as before. In other words, the only change is that the Chamber now have a fantastic display relative to the past.


During the transition of the Town Council to the municipal districts, Carlow Chamber became aware that the Local Authority budget provision for lights in 2014 would be considerably reduced. On foot of this, representations were made in order to have the original, traditional funding restored and County Carlow Chamber understood that it would be available. In early November, it was brought to our attention that it was not in the budget and at that point we formally wrote to the Local Authority to seek the funding as otherwise, there were no resources to install the lights. This of course, would have been a disaster for the Town, its businesses, citizens and especially it's children.


The Chamber, on behalf of the people of Carlow, wish to thank the elected representatives for agreeing to part fund the installation of lights, as it always did previously. Indeed, the Chamber looks forward to working even more closely with the Local Authorities, both elected and otherwise, in engaging with our citizens. The Chamber also ask that appropriate provision be made in the budget for next and subsequent years.


The Chamber appeal to our members to contribute to the cost of the work, as usual or the Chamber will face a considerable shortfall. Invoices will be issued next week and we hope members see the value in the enhanced atmosphere our efforts create.

County Carlow Chamber has been, in conjunction with Carlow County Council, the main driver of most of the citizen engagement initiatives over the last few years. Christmas in Carlow first held last year, and repeated this year, was a Chamber initiative and includes such popular events as the Treasure Hunt, the Elves Workshop, Santa’s post box and other children’s entertainment and also the distribution of 20,000 Christmas in Carlow information booklets throughout the county. County Carlow Chamber was also the lead agency in the setting up of the Carlow Town Team, which has allowed all stakeholders have an input to the future of the Town.


Finally, the board wishes to express the view that this treatment of County Carlow Chamber, it's board and it's members is outrageous. The Chamber works extremely hard to promote the County and help businesses, members or otherwise, to thrive and hopefully create the employment that will restore living standards and help lift the County. The board works tirelessly to that end on a volunteer basis and many of them give up considerable time at their own expense. Their work should be valued and non ridiculed or disrespected the way it was last week.


The Chamber looks forward to accepting the Co. Council’s invitation to meet them.


For and on behalf of the Board of County Carlow Chamber.


John Brophy DipSCM MSCSI MRICS (President)



Response to Nationalist 28/11/14


There was a misunderstanding at the Council Budget meeting last week which led to

unfortunate comments and headlines in last week’s edition of the Nationalist.


Chamber President, John Brophy, said that County Carlow Chamber has been, in

conjunction with Carlow County Council, a key driver of most of the citizen engagement

initiatives over the last few years. Christmas in Carlow first held last year, included

such popular events as the treasure hunt, the elves workshop, Santa’s post box and other

children’s entertainment and also the distribution of 20,000 booklets throughout the county. These activites were all initiated by County Carlow Chamber. Carlow Chamber sought and secured the funding that allowed Carlow, Bagnelstown and Tullow to replace old, inefficient and often broken stock with new state of the art, energy efficient Christmas Lights.


Carlow Chamber was also the lead agency in the setting up of the Carlow Town Team,

which has allowed all stakeholders have an input to the future of the Town. The President

further explained the misunderstanding by adding Carlow County Chamber has been

happy for many years to facilitate the process of installing, removing and storing of Carlow

lights. However, apart from a contribution by those traders in the area where lights are

installed the cost of this installation has always been borne by the Town Council, as it

should be, as they are lights for the town and people of Carlow County. Carlow Chamber,

being a not for profit voluntary organisation would never have had the resources to pay

for them.


During the transition of the Town Council to the municipal districts, the Carlow Chamber became aware that the Local Authority budget provision for lights in 2014 would be considerably reduced. On foot of this, representations were made to have the original, traditional funding restored and County Carlow Chamber understood that it would be available. In early November it was brought to our attention that it was not in the budget and at that point we formally wrote to the Local Authority to seek the funding as otherwise, there were no resources to install the lights. This of course, would have been a disaster for the Town, its businesses, citizens and especially it's children.


We are delighted with the subsequent decision on the part of the elected representatives

to fund the lights and indeed we look forward to working even more closely with the Local

Authority both elected and otherwise in engaging with our citizens. The Chamber also ask that appropriate provision be made for next and subsequent years. I took many phone calls

from people, members and otherwise on foot of the article and I was very encouraged to

see that the story as reported, galvanised the Carlow Business, and showed the passion

of Carlow People to make County Carlow the go to place for everyone this Christmas.