THE sounds of the bells at St Mary’s Cathedral will fill the air as Limerick welcomes 2015 in style.
For more than 100 years, people have gathered outside the Protestant cathedral to ring in the New Year in Limerick - and that tradition shows no sign of abating, according to Mike Pomeroy, the church tower keeper.
“We will start at midnight,” he explained. “The heaviest bell rings 12 times, and then we ring for about 15 to 20 minutes afterwards”.
Last year, the cathedral was the focus for the opening event of Limerick City of Culture, meaning access to the tower was restricted.
That is still the case this year, but members of the public are being asked to gather outside the cathedral to say goodbye to 2014 in style.
“I don’t know how long the tradition goes back. There have been bells in the cathedral since the late 1600s, but I suspect ringing in the New Year started happening in the 20th century,” Mike said.
When Mike first came to Limerick, he recalls huge crowds gathering in the streets around the cathedral.
Sadly, in more recent times, that number has declined, he added.
“It has always been a great tradition. When I came here in the late 1970s, there would be thousands of people gathered around the Cathedral. It has become a tradition which developed.
“But after the millennium, people began staying at home more. So instead of having crowds outside, we had fewer people. I feel more people would have celebrated in their houses,” he said.
In the past, when pubs closed at 11pm, people would flock to the cathedral to witness the ringing, followed by a number of fireworks.
Meanwhile, local publican and Vintners representative Cllr Jerry O’Dea is expecting a busy New Year’s Eve in the city.
“Christmas has been quite good in the trade. We have found a lot of people who have emigrated are coming home to meet family and friends in the pub.
“We are hoping that New Year’s Eve will go well,” he said.