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Storm forces cancellation of Galway culture event

The fire-lighting spectacle had been expected to draw thousands of spectators but was called off due to the severe conditions.

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Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill Co Galway is battered by waves as Ireland and the UK brace for Storm Ciara (Liam McBurney/PA).

Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill Co Galway is battered by waves as Ireland and the UK brace for Storm Ciara (Liam McBurney/PA).

Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill Co Galway is battered by waves as Ireland and the UK brace for Storm Ciara (Liam McBurney/PA).

The opening ceremony of Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture has been cancelled due to bad weather buffeting Ireland’s west coast.

The fire-lighting spectacle had been expected to draw thousands of spectators, but was called off due to the severe conditions.

Forecaster Met Eireann issued a status orange wind warning for the city.

Gusts of up to 120 kilometres per hour were expected with the arrival of Storm Ciara this weekend.

High waves battered the coastline at nearby Salthill (Liam McBurney/PA)

High waves battered the coastline at nearby Salthill.

Spectators stood close by as the ocean and spray engulfed the Blackrock diving board.

Pedestrians including dog walkers braced themselves against the strong winds sweeping in off the Atlantic.

We are saddened for the community cast, our volunteers and the whole team who have worked so hard during the last weeks and monthsGalway 2020

Sandbags protected the entrances of businesses on the seafront, while part of the main coastal road from Galway was closed.

Sandbags are placed at the entrance to Coco Cafe Salthill, Co Galway (Liam McBurney/PA)

An orange wind warning for the whole country will come into effect in the early hours of Sunday.

The Galway ceremony organisers said: “We have been in constant contact with the relevant authorities since the weather warnings were put in place earlier this week and, in the interests of the safety of the public the weather warnings currently in place mean that it has been deemed unsafe to go ahead.

“We are saddened for the community cast, our volunteers and the whole team who have worked so hard during the last weeks and months.

Construction workers dismantle steps at Galway’s South Park
Construction workers dismantle steps at Galway’s South Park (Liam McBurney/PA)

“Today’s event would have marked the finale of what has been a hugely successful week-long series of events on the fire tour of lighting ceremonies that have lit up towns across the county.”

President Michael D Higgins had to been scheduled to attend as well as musicians and artists.

Saturday evening’s ceremony was designed to be the culmination of smaller fire events around Galway this week.

People walking their dogs on Salthill promenade in Co Galway (Liam McBurney/PA)

Met Eireann warned that a combination of spring high tides and high seas as well as stormy conditions create a significant risk of coastal flooding, particularly along western and north-western coasts.

Irish airline Aer Lingus has advised passengers to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport.

Meanwhile, a yellow alert for rain in Northern Ireland has been issued by the Met Office.

Flooding of a small number of homes and businesses is possible as well as difficult driving conditions, the forecaster said.

PA