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Week-long celebration marks Phoenix visit

 

Carol Mellis conducts the St Mary’s High School Marching Band from Phoenix during the civic reception at Waterpark House to mark the 25th anniversary of the twinning link between Ennis and Phoenix. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

THE twinning relationship between Ennis and Phoenix continues to burn bright, with last week marking its 25th anniversary with a week-long celebration.

At a civic reception held by Ennis Town Council in honour of visiting delegates from Phoenix, Mayor of Ennis Peter Considine outlined his wish that the relationship between the sister cities will continue for another 25 years.

Among the delegation from Phoenix were Councilman Michael Johnson and members of St Mary’s Catholic High School Band.

Despite the unsure future for Ennis Town Council, Mayor Considine spoke of his hope that the twinning would continue. He commented that despite proposals to abolish the council, there is an ongoing committment to maintain the town’s connection with Phoenix.

“It’s a real pleasure for Ennis to have known and worked with you for the past 25 years. We wish you continued success and hope that the Ennis-Phoenix relationship continues to grow and prosper over the next 25 years,” he told the delegates.

At the reception in Waterpark House, Councillor Considine continued, “In celebrating our 25th anniversary, we are also celebrating ties which have been forged by the large-scale emigration from Ireland to America and the contribution made in every field by the Irish in America. This Irish-American connection has a long and strong future, judging by the ongoing interchanges between both our communities – and, of course, the Irish have a close relationship with the American people that is certain to maintain and enhance that connection.”

He went on to highlight Ireland and America’s close economic ties, adding, “Likewise, tourism and intellectual and cultural exchanges are lively and flourishing. This is not surprising as the landscape of Ireland is indeed beautiful, people are friendly and welcoming, Irish music and culture has undergone a renaissance and the country maintains a distinctiveness that is unmistakably Irish, all of which makes it a very attractive place to visit.”

He spoke of how over the past 25 years, many official and informal visits have taken place between Ennis and Phoenix. “These visits and exchanges have strengthened a whole range of social and cultural ties between our cities.  This is one of the most compelling reasons for strong Sister City initiatives,” he said.

According to Councillor Considine, one of the most successful elements of the twinning relationship has been the Youth Ambassador Programme. He praised all associated with the Sister Cities’ project in Phoenix and the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board. The civic reception featured performances by musicians from Barefield National School and Maoin Cheol an Chláir.

Another highlight of Phoenix Week was the attendance of the St Mary’s Catholic School Marching Band from Phoenix at a number of events. As well as performing at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Ennis, the musicians opened the Baby Nicholas’ memorial run at the Cliffs of Moher. They also played at Ennis Cathedral, Barefield National School, Scoil Chríost Rí and Coláiste Muire during their visit.

The US visitors had a week packed full of events showcasing the best that Clare has to offer. They learned how to play tin whistles, got a hurling lesson, attended traditional music sessions, along with taking trips to some of the county’s biggest tourist attractions.

Speaking about the visit, Councillor Considine said, “All of the young people in the band were totally immersed in the culture here and they all really enjoyed it. For many of those young people, it would be their first and only opportunity to get out of America. People often ask about what a large city like Phoenix would have in common with a town like Ennis but size is irrelevant when it comes to this kind of connection. This is about social and cultural exchanges; it’s about people,” the mayor said.

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