Twinning committee set for 25th anniversary
Like me, you’ve probably seen signs on the approach to numerous towns in Ireland claiming that the town you’re about to arrive in is twinned with another town in another part of the world. French towns seem to be quite popular when it comes to this sort of thing.
Did you know that Glenamaddy is one of over 50 towns in Ireland that has been twinned with a town in Brittany? The town on the Galway Roscommon border has been aligned with the town of Guiscriff since 1993 and both towns will celebrate the 25th anniversary next year.
Earlier this week, I made my way to Jim Pete’s pub in Glen to meet the multi-cultural Town Twinning committee led by chairperson Maureen Beames.
Maureen spent 39 years in England before returning to Ireland with her English husband, Alan, and making her home in Glenamaddy.
“I was 39 years in England and I retired seven years ago and we decided to return to Glen. My husband who’s English actually wanted to come back more than I did,” she laughs. Maureen quickly became involved in the local drama group and the town twinning committee and became chairperson in September.
Bernard Mahé has stronger ties with Guiscriff than anyone in Glenamaddy, having been the deputy mayor of the town before his departure for Ireland 20 years ago. How did Glenamaddy gain possession of their twinned town’s deputy mayor you ask? Ah c’est un conte d’amour!
“I’ve been living in Glenamaddy for fifteen years. In August 1995 I brought the youth club from Guiscriff to Glenamaddy. I was on the town council and it was part of my responsibilities. Carmel was one of the leaders of the Glenamaddy youth group,” he says, before explaining that he is now married to Carmel and they have two children, Emma who’s 14 and Jennifer who’s 8.
Bernard and Carmel kept in contact following that initial meeting in 1995 and Bernard moved to Ireland in 1997. He is now the secretary of the twinning committee and has played an important part in welcoming visiting delegations and groups to the town over the past number of years.
The committee’s secretary is Fanny Peters and she too hails from France, or Normandy to be exact.
“I had come to Galway for seven months in the beginning, and five years later decided it was time to move on…and that’s when I met Barry,” she says. Barry is now Fanny’s fiancé and they have a three-year-old daughter, Laoise. Fanny became involved with the committee thanks to Bernard’s mother-in-law, Mary Kilmartin, who plays the role of recruiter in the village.
Fanny told me about the many events the committee has been involved in including the recent Christmas fair which was a great success. She also detailed upcoming fundraisers in the New Year which will culminate in Frankie Gavin’s concert on February 9nd, a week after the musician appears on The Late Late Show!
“It’s important (the town twinning), it’s an exchange of culture and language,” she says before highlighting previous visits from both town delegations and Guiscriff students.
Bernard agrees with Fanny on the importance of the committee and the cultural significance. He says that organisers on both sides of the channel are hoping the Guiscriff committee can visit again in 2018 to mark the 25th anniversary of the twinning which has so far been great for French-Glen relations.