Municipal District of Wicklow to form new committee to strengthen twin town ties

The Municipal District of WICKLOW intends to set up a committee to strengthen the links between the town of Wicklow and its twin towns in Germany, France and Wales.

he Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee made a presentation at the start of the monthly municipal district meeting in July, after being invited to Eichenzell to participate in the Fulda region’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

Garrett O’Reilly, Geoff Kane and Tara Gargan of the Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee spoke in the council chamber about the seriousness with which the citizens of Eichenzell take the twinning with the town of Wicklow. Signs for the town of Wicklow are evident in the town center and at all entrances to town.

Cllr Irene Winters recalled when efforts were first made to twin the town of Wicklow with Eichenzell in 2009, and wanted to strengthen the ties between the two towns.

“We need to encourage as much interaction as possible. It is a beautiful city with so much to offer. They are looking for young people to live there and have reduced childcare costs to encourage people. They are also very involved in renewable energies.

“They are engaged with us both culturally and economically. They want to engage with people in our community, and we want to engage with their community, and the more we can encourage that, the better.

Cllr Shay Cullen was a recent visitor to Würzburg as part of a delegation from Wicklow County Council, and during the trip he also visited Eichenzell.

“The interest they have in the whole matchmaking area was mind-blowing, and to be honest, it took me by surprise,” he said.

“I don’t want it to be just a twinning between Wicklow Town and Eichenzell, I want it to be for the district. We have to make it bigger than the city.

“The whole school zone and the exchanges are something that we have to pursue. They are going to gain so much by coming here, just like our children are going there culturally.

Cllr John Snell also felt there was more to be done to take advantage of matchmaking opportunities.

“We are in an ideal position to put something together and work on it collectively, providing opportunities for both areas. Along with schools, language also comes into play.

“We have children in our district who are looking to speak French and German, and there are also German children who are looking to learn English.

“There are also a lot of sports clubs who would also be interested. Employment opportunities are another thing we need to look at.

He also praised Wicklow’s St. Patrick’s Day Committee for welcoming German visitors to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year.

“I must commend the Committee for the amount of effort they have put into welcoming our visitors. We see them on the marching band stand during the parade and that’s it. There is no connection and this is something we will work on.

“It would be wonderful to welcome some of our own visitors for the 2023 Wicklow Regatta.”

Committee members were invited to Eichenzell by visiting dignitaries who were in Wicklow at Arch, enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

During their visit, they met the mayor of Eichenzell, Joanne’s Rothmund, and the leader of the town twinning group of Eichenzell, Brigit Kompel.

The group of guests from Wicklow took a guided tour of the sympathetically renovated Eichenzell Castle Town Hall, during which they were also taken to a local community area, Eichenzeller Wartturm, which is currently managed by a local riding group, and features the availability of solar charging stations for cyclists, as well as picnic tables and a serving area to facilitate community events.

Later that evening, Eichenzell twinning committee vice-chair Andrea Harms invited the Wicklow delegation to dinner at a community Bier Garden, which supports people with developmental disabilities.

Later in their journey, they were taken to visit Point Alpha, which was the former Iron Curtain crossing point between East Germany and West Germany. Andrea also took the group on a walking tour of the city of Fulda, including Fulda Cathedral, founded in 744 by Stormy, a disciple of Saint Boniface.

They also visited the site of Fasanerie Castle’s 200th anniversary celebrations, which ended with a spectacular water and light show.

Knitwear made by Shuttle Knit Ireland, located in the town of Wicklow, was presented to the hosts as a thank you for all their hospitality.

Cllr Gail Dunne commented: “Anyone who has been there can tell you how beautiful it is. There is no doubt, they do it better than us.

“I was there in 2009 where they had a function for the town of Wicklow twinning, and over 400 people attended. Tickets sold out after 18 minutes. It shows how seriously they took it.

“You have to be realistic, doing all of this will cost money. It’s something we have to look at from a budgetary point of view, but it would be the best money we’ve ever spent as a Council.

Cllr Mary Kavanagh suggested involving host families providing accommodation for visitors to the Twin Towns of Wicklow.

“More people would be encouraged to open their doors to people because it would be reciprocal. We have to try much harder.

There is currently €6,000 set aside in the Wicklow Borough budget for the twinning. A committee will be formed to improve Wicklow’s status as a twin town, which will be led by the Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee.

Paul O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District of Wicklow, said: “It can’t be a town affair, it has to be the district.

“It cannot be a tick box exercise and schools and clubs are something we need to look at. This requires a much greater contribution from all of us.

Melissa C. Keyes