UPDATE: Famous Laois Christmas tree saved as new volunteers come forward

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Mountmellick Christmas Tree.

Mountmellick Christmas Tree.

Only a day after a Laois town was saddened to hear their famed Christmas Tree was no more, the tradition has been rescued.

Mountmellick Christmas Tree has towered over the town every festive season for the past 63 years.  On Friday the committee chairman Brian Lynch who has been at the heart of the tradition since it began, announced that the committee was disbanding.

Read our breaking story with his announcement here. 

He cited the Covid-19 restrictions making their annual fundraisers impossible, and also the age of the committee, with Mr Lynch himself in his 80's.

Mr Lynch said they would be happy to hand over the equipment for the tree and crib, if expert new hands offered to take it on.

This Saturday, their Facebook page announced that that has already happened.

"A chairde. We are delighted to let you all know that a new team has been established to ensure that our world-famous tree will continue to illuminate our lives, as it has done for generations.

"All we ask of you as residents of Mountmellick (and maybe those of you amongst its diaspora around the world), is to help with the necessary fundraising drive that will be launched soon. Please note that only the fundraising initiatives publicised on this page are the official drives. While we are very grateful for offers of help, the bureaucracy and regulations behind the tree mean that the operation is hugely complex. We need to keep the process as streamlined and stylized as possible.

"Thank you all for us such wonderful messages of gratitude and good wishes regarding the announcement of our decision to retire gracefully from the management of the Christmas tree. When we first conceived of the Christmas tree idea so many decades ago, the complexities of modern life were not a factor. It is ironic how, despite advances in technology and engineering, many facets of the 21st century world have played their part in making the tree’s appearance each year ever more difficult.

"We will work with the new committee to facilitate them in ensuring a smooth transition towards a brighter future. The tree will be safe in their hands.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir agus Nollaig shona."

A GoFundMe account has been initiated to replace the traditional flagday and church gate collections held by the committee. 

'Keep Our Tree Lit' is organised by local woman Cathy Bishop.

"Since the announcement that our Christmas tree may have been in peril,  we have all felt the love there is for it. There is no doubt that it plays such a special part in our Christmases past and present. Well, we need to secure it for our future generations. 

"Needless to say, the tree requires a lot of operational costs. Issues such as insurance and electricity are constants. Maintenance, health and safety and many other considerations means that finance is always required. 
This is where you come in. We figure that if 1,000 donated €20 each, we will certainly safeguard the tree for the next 2 years. However, anything you can offer will be most welcome by the new committee.
Come on Mountmellick! The community never lets us down whether at home or abroad," she said.

Within two days the fund hit €2,820 with several people donating €100 and above. It has a target of €20,000.

To Donate to 'Keep Our Tree Lit' Mountmellick Christmas Tree fundraiser see Gofundme account here.