IN the run-up to the UEFA European Championships in France, a group from the French town of Marsilly, north of la Rochelle on the west coast of France, arrived in Baltimore to commence their first official visit as part of the new Côte à Coast twinning association.
A scouting trip to Baltimore was undertaken by the group’s president Rosaleen Ardouin and her husband Christian last February, following connections made by Colin Whooley of Roaring Water Bay Rope Mussels and his counterparts in Marsilly.
Some of the visitors stayed in Bushe’s B&B in the village, more stayed with families around Baltimore.
There was an island boat trip followed by lunch on Sherkin Island, arranged by Mark Murphy of the Islander’s Rest and his brothers, Mike and Robbie Murphy.
There was also a visit to the Saturday morning market in Skibbereen, as well as the Heritage Centre and later there was entertainment by the local children of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Local activities included a picnic by the water at Lough Ine, a walk to Spain Tower and a little wildlife spotting from The Beacon where two basking shark were spotted.
John Kearney kindly gave a tour of the Baltimore Lifeboat Station where the similarities between the RNLI and SNSM were discussed. Bernie O’Driscoll kindly gave a tour and explained the history of Baltimore and the O’Driscoll Castle in French. BEvening entertainment included traditional ‘fish & chips’ at Tom and Ann Kelly’s home in Ballylynch. The official signing of the twinning charter took place in Youen and Kate Jacob’s ‘Lookout’ restaurant on Saturday evening, following a great meal and beautiful sunset, and was attended by a number of local people.
The Mayor of Marsilly and his wife, Hervé & Martine Pineau, are eager to establish trade relations, as well as tourist relations, with Baltimore in the future.
The townspeople of Marsilly are very eager to invite people from Baltimore to visit them and a trip is being organised for the weekend of September 9th-11th when Marsilly hold their annual festival.
Ryanair flights direct to La Rochelle depart Dublin on the Friday morning and return on Monday evening. Accommodation will be provided free of charge with families in the town and anyone who wishes to go along is invited to call Ann Kelly on 087 2203866.