Bagenalstown, Ireland - Pont Pean, France
Bagenalstown, April 1999
Sunday April 18 was an historic day for the people of Bagenalstown, with the signing of a charter which officially twins the town with Pont Pean in France.
A group of thirty-seven residents of the French town were in Bagenalstown for the ceremony, and during their four-day stay they took in several tours of the area and attended special night time functions in the town.
The French Party was led by the Mayor of Pont Pean, Mons. Louis Gauffeny, who was accompanied by town Council members, twinning committee members and residents of Pont Pean.
The visitors stayed with host families in the Bagenalstown area, and toured several areas of historic interest, as well as Carlow Brewing Company and Kilkenny Design Workshop. A special tour of Bagenalstown took place on Sunday, and the French were also treated to a hurling match at McGrath Park.
On Friday a special welcoming dinner took place in the Presentation De La Salle College, sponsored by Bank of Ireland. Presentations were made to the Town Twinning Committee chairpersons from both towns.
Saturday night was sponsored by the Vintners, and the venue was The Railway House where a Pike was presented to the French Mayor by local Pikemen. The Mayor proved himself a talented entertainer, and took to the stage like a fish to water, with several renditions of a song titled "Scooby Do."
Sunday nights farewell function took place in the Mount Leinster Arms, and the French party departed on Monday. Earlier a presentation of a sliotar, jersey and hurley was made to the Mayor by Erins Own Hurling Club, at a match at McGrath Park.
The official twinning ceremony took place in Fairgreen Park, which was looking beautiful for the occasion (Well done to Bagenalstown Improvement Group). Entertainment was provided by Rathanna Marching Band and members of the Sadie McGrath Schools of Dancing. The ceremony was attended by the members of the Fire Service, Civil Defence, FCA, O.N.E., and Pikemen.
The Chairman of Bagenalstown Town Commission Cllr. Arthur McDonald explained that following an initial approach from the Pont Pean Twinning Committee, Bagenalstown Town Commissioners set up a twinning committee to establish links with the French town.
He said what followed was an initial exchange of a few key personnel, several meetings and much correspondence, and now at last, the official twinning of the two towns.
Gifts were exchanged between the Mayor and Cllr. McDonald, with a beautiful picture of Bagenalstown being presented to the Mayor from the people of Bagenalstown. The twinning charter was signed on behalf of the people of Bagenalstown by Cllr. McDonald, Cmmr. Paddy Kiely and the Chief of the Kinsella Clan, Eddie Kinsella.
The signing of the twinning Charter was summed up aptly by Cmmr. Paddy Kiely, Chairman of the Bagenalstown Twinning Committee, who said; "The twinning of the two towns is like a marriage. There is a fairly long courtship before the knot is finally tied. Pont Pean and Bagenalstown have had their courtship, and the weekend has finally arrived to tie the knot."
The Mayor of Pont Pean, Mons. Gauffney said the town twinning road would be a long one, but the initial steps, which were the most important ones, had already been taken.
"We will probably begin with cultural and sporting events which are the easiest areas for exchange. We must however also pay attention to other areas : in the economic domain, cooperation in tourism, educational exchanges and training periods in local enterprises, in order to develop bilingualism and professional qualifications.We will speak about this later since the primary aim of the founders of our twinning is to create a current of friendship and empathy between our two communities. The quality and the warmth of your welcome leads me to believe that this will be easy to achieve. No doubt we shall remember this for a long time but in particular at the signing of the Charter in the year 2000 at Pont-Péan. I would like to add that we have been greatly touched by the effort made by the traders and the population of Muinebheag in decorating the shops and houses in our honor. We admire and greatly appreciate your energy and the attention that you have paid to us.
The President of the Pont Pean Twinning Committee, Mme. Armelle Desrez, has been one of the guiding lights behind the twinning, and she was thrilled with the reception the group received in Bagenalstown, and she looked forward to the return visit in France next year.
The twinning charter is written in Irish, English and French, and it commits the two towns to "developing social, economic, cultural, touristic, and sporting links" between the two communities.
Already several exchanges have taken place between residents of both towns and these exchanges will continue. Next years signing of the Charter in France is expected to take place in April, when its thought a large group of people from Bagenalstown will travel to Pont Pean.
Copyright(c)Jarlath Judge 1999