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Saturday 7 December 2019

Winter blunderland - shoppers take dim view of Grafton St sign

The new illuminated sign greeting festive shoppers in
Grafton Street this year. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The new illuminated sign greeting festive shoppers in Grafton Street this year. Photo: Steve Humphreys
How the old sign looked

Christmas shoppers have been left less than impressed by a new festive sign unveiled on Grafton Street which has prompted a string of complaints on social media.

The traditional 'Nollaig Shona Duit' sign that welcomed punters into the city centre and heralded the start of the Christmas season has been replaced by a new sign in English.

However, the meaning of it seems to have been lost in translation as scores of people took to social media to complain about the new 'Welcome to Grafton Quarter' sign that was erected earlier this week.

Alluding to the famous song Dublin Can Be Heaven, one person complained on Twitter: "Grafton Street's a wonderland, there's magic in the air - Noel Purcell didn't Dublin Saunter down the Grafton Quarter.

"What's the next division of Dublin going to be; the poor half and the posh half split by the Liffey? #BahHumbug."

Another user wrote: "Grafton Quarter? Why isn't the main welcome to Grafton Street in Irish?"

Another person wrote: "Somewhere in Dublin 2, the person who came up with 'Grafton Quarter' is clutching a set of Swarovski worry beads and sobbing into an espresso martini, wondering why Twitter can't be, like, you know, as supportive as Instagram..."

However, Richard Guiney, chief executive of DublinTown which is responsible for putting up the festive lights around the city every year, said it was a name that businesses in the area had been using for some time among themselves.

Damaged

He also told the Herald that the old sign in Irish was damaged and had to be replaced with something new, prompting the rebrand to 'Grafton Quarter'.

"It's the name that businesses were using among themselves going back to about 2006, 2007," he said.

"It was used by the council as well when they were in the process of doing the refurbishment and they named it the Grafton Quarter as well.

"We've just continued using it as a description for the general area for the streets around Grafton Street."

Mr Guiney said DublinTown was not trying to subtly change the name of Grafton Street to the Grafton Quarter.

He added that the old sign was also grammatically wrong.

"It read 'Nollaig Shona Duit', which is singular, whereas it should probably have been the plural 'Nollaig Shona Daoibh'," he said.

"We felt the old sign had had its time and we needed to replace it with something different so that's where the new sign came from.

"It was in no way an attempt to change it from Grafton Street to Grafton Quarter."

When asked about expected trade levels in the lead-up to the busiest time of the year, Mr Guiney said 2019 had been a "very strange year" for retailers and businesses.

"Footfall has held solid, it's up half a per cent, but the spend has been a bit more muted," he said.

"I think there's two things there. There's uncertainty over Brexit and the economy generally in addition to the cost of rents.

"The people who drive the city-centre economy are generally younger folk who are buying at the fashion stores and going out at night and the squeeze is certainly on them.

"But more people are using the Luas to come into the city centre and less people are using their cars.

"We would like to see more people using public transport to access the city.

"I think people feel more confident now. The climate is good and all those indicators are good. I think we'll have an OK Christmas this year after all the uncertainty of the past year."

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