By Jimmy Rhatigan
TRUE LOVE is a doting mother cradling a baby on a sun-kissed morn’.
There is hardly a greater bond than that of a mum and her wee son or daughter.
It is apt that what is arguably our city’s most beautiful street plays host to the mothers and babies of our city and county every week.
Business people with a huge pride in St Kieran’s Street and environs believed that a weekly love affair in their shopping bailiwick would add to the charm of a picture postcard region that is one of the jewels in the crown of Kilkenny shopping.
How right they were.
All human life thrives on
Tuesday coffee mornings thanks to the regular arrival of big numbers of mums and their little bundles of joy.
Because of Covid restrictions there is no singing or dancing but cleverly arranged tables, the aroma of coffee, the hum of chit chat and the odd baby tears for souvenirs ensure that the area is delightful for chilling out.
It is also a curiosity corner for recent born babes and a healthy open air experience for those who appreciate the magic of a city street that in many respects rivals the best that many world capitals can muster.
To be part of the festivities you need only to agree with the famous words of The Beatles, All You Need Is Love.
City centre alfresco party is a Mother and Child Reunion
INNOVATIVE Kilkenny is certainly not sitting on its hands.
It is standing up for itself, on its own two feet, thinking hard and copper-fastening the bond that already exists between customer and shopper.
Ironically, the word sitting is at the heart of a brilliant plan that is running smoothly right through its well-planned
Tuesday is Buggies, Bibs and Baby Chinos, a parent and baby morning hosted by St Kieran’s Street traders and immediate neighbours.
Fulcrum of the Welcome to St Kieran’s Street gathering is the excellent new outdoor seating area for dining, relaxing or simply chatting, provided by our county council.
It was perhaps the alfresco seating that promoted sharp local business owners to issue an invite to the mums, dads and babies, grandparents and great grandparents as well, to a morning of fun and games and a little bit of shopping in the area.
Had Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest fired an arrow in the region it would have hit the spot.
And hit the spot is exactly what this community initiative has done as families flock to the street called after St Kieran and its environs for a reunion on the town – make that city.
Responsible for the positive thinking were Ann Barber of the Butterslip Shop, Rose Inn Street, JD Flynn of Kyteler’s Inn and Laura Gannon at Face 2.
The thinking behind the project was that because of Covid-19 mother and baby groups can no longer get suitable indoor venues to share the joy of their little ones.
Our Market Yard, once famous for visiting carnivals, dare diving from on high and Hoopla Stalls has again become a children’s playground on Tuesday mornings.
Perhaps someone may have suggested it already but our view is that the Paul Simon song Mother and Child Reunion would make an ideal anthem for what have become magnificent market meetings. Cake Face has served up free coffee and Kyteler’s Inn has opened its baby changing facility to the infants of our city and county
“We put out invites and word spread like wildfire,” Ann Barber told The Kilkenny Observer.
“We are delighted that families are coming from here, there and everywhere. The venue is buggy and wheelchair-friendly, the area is top of the pops for social distancing and that it is outdoors is a huge plus.
“It looks as if parents and children were waiting for a meeting place to turn up. We are delighted families are coming in big numbers.
“This is a two-way street with extended families enjoying a break and businesses experiencing a spin-off.
“A bunch of other stores them came on board and gave discounts to shoppers. The Pantry and The Yard provided discounted coffee.
“The idea of giving people another incentive to visit our city centre certainly proved to be a wise one.
“It has become a win-win situation for customers and businesses.”
Perhaps the story of Cork-born Ann Barber’s life in Kilkenny will be mirrored by the success of the city centre baby boom?
“I came here for a weekend 20 years ago and stayed for a lifetime. I love it here. We have a great city; there are so many positives about it.”
Plan is to continue the coffee mornings every Tuesday, weather permitting. Details will be available on the St Kieran’s Street Facebook page.