A Roscommon councillor is leading a national campaign to encourage towns and villages to leave their Christmas street lights on until the end of January, in a bid to lift spirits during the latest wave of the pandemic.

Valerie Byrne, from Elphin, said up to 100 towns all over the country have already joined the movement, which is intended to show residents that there is "light at the end of the tunnel as the new vaccines are rolled out."

Ten Roscommon towns have already been joined by Westport in Co Mayo, Newbridge, Co Kildare and dozens of smaller villages around the country.

Cllr Byrne said: "Before Christmas there was great hope and optimism when the news of the Covid-19 vaccines arrived. 

"But the third wave of the virus seemed to extinguish all that hope and we felt that something was badly needed at this stage to try and help improve morale and lift the spirits of people driving and walking through our towns."

She said many towns and villages will be left in total darkness if the Christmas lights are extinguished because all pubs and a lot of other businesses and shops are closed up due to the latest restrictions.

Cllr Byrne said: "We just thought that by leaving the lights on for another three weeks we could help to bridge the gap to the end of the restrictions and lift spirits."

She said: "We are asking Christmas lights committees and volunteers in towns all over the country to join our campaign and keep their lights up and burning brightly. So that we can all show that there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel."

Noel Moran of the Ballyleague Christmas lights committee on the Roscommon-Longford border is one of those supporting the campaign. 

Mr Moran said: "We have received tremendous support from members of the public in putting up our Christmas lights this year, so we felt it was a good way to give something back in leaving up our street lights until the end of the month."