BY JACKIE KEOGH
A NEWLY-formed committee is looking to twin Skibbereen with a coastal community in Boston.
Mac Dara O h-ici of Cork County Council informed members of the Municipal District of West Cork that the people of Scituate – a town 26 miles south of Boston, Massachusetts – wrote to the local authority last July, seeking a twin. The residents wrote to say they are ‘exploring the possibility of establishing a sister city relationship’ and pointed out that more than 47% of the town’s residents are of Irish descent.
At the time, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) agreed to discuss the proposal with members of Skibbereen and District Chamber of Commerce, as well as local tourism and community groups. And the Skibbereen Heritage Centre was also mentioned as a valuable asset in terms of forging links with towns like Scituate.
At a meeting of the Municipal District in Bantry on Monday, Cllr Carroll said there is interest in twinning with the town, which has a year-round population of 18,886, and a summertime population of 30,000. It was agreed that three members of the Municipal District – namely Joe Carroll, Mary Hegarty (FG) and Paul Hayes (SF) – would form the nucleus of the new committee.
‘We have seen how good the twinning relationship is between Kinsale and Newport, Rhode Island,’ said Cllr Carroll, who is hoping that this endeavour will prove to be as successful.
Mac Dara O h-ici said the twinning of towns has proved to be beneficial from an economic and social point of view.
In Bantry, Cllr Mary Hegarty said its long-standing twinning association with La Crosse in America has had many benefits, and their visit to Bantry last year was very enjoyable.
‘Twinning does create a positive economic impact in our towns,’ said Cllr Hegarty, who also pointed out that a new government department for Diaspora Affairs is encouraging the formation of links with European and American communities.
‘People want to come back and learn about their history,’ she said. And, in towns like Skibbereen, there are families ‘who want to come back and establish a business.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said Clonakilty’s 30-year relationship with Waldaschaff in Germany continues to be one of the real twinning success stories. He said almost every teenager in the town had gone over to visit at one time or another. ‘It’s like Christy Moore says: “We go there and they come here’,’ he said.