A “showpiece” Christmas tree in Northern Ireland has sparked bemused reactions online with its underwhelming appearance.
Residents in and around the small harbour town of Kilkeel turned out in their hundreds last Saturday, November 30, to see the lights on the tree be turned on.
It was supposed to be the culmination of a busy day of festive Charles Dickens-themed activities in the townland but proved an underwhelming finale for those watching on.
Footage of the moment when the lights were first turned on was uploaded to social media, capturing the audible gasps and laughter that greeted the switch-on.
In the video, lights can be seen wrapped around the trunk of the central tree along with several branches while much of the rest of the tree remains dark and bare.
— Richard Mckee (@mckee1690) November 30, 2019
The event’s organisers at the Kilkeel Development Association expressed their dismay at the resulting display.
"Unfortunately [the] official light switch on was a major let down for the entire community," it said in a statement.
"As event organisers we are truly shocked and dismayed with the end result and unfortunately the damage has now been done.
Councillor Sean Doran also branded the efforts “a total disaster”.
“Everyone knew what was going to happen,’ he told the Belfast Telegraph. “People were so disappointed.”
However, Newry Mourne and Down District council has come out in defence of the display, insisting its low-key feel was intentional.
Kilkeel’s cracker pic.twitter.com/nhePKsbtg8
— Stephen Weir (@SWeir88) November 30, 2019
According to a council spokesperson it had become "increasingly difficult" to decorate the traditional planted tree in recent years.
As much £8,000 was spent on lights for the tree last year, most of which were so battered by the elements they could not be re-used.
They went on to explain that the unusual arrangement of the lights was actually part of a display designed to shield them from the wind.
Despite defending the display, they have confirmed that plans are afoot for a new nine-metre-high tree which will replace of the existing one.