Athenry Twins with Quimperle – 2003

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Historic Charter Signing opens up European Opportunities

The sun shone in Athenry on Easter Sunday as Athenry and Quimperle signed the official twinning Charter in Athenry Castle. Hopefully it is a good omen for the future friendship and development of bonds between the two towns.

Thirty-four visitors including two Deputy Mayors travelled to Athenry for Easter week (19th – 26th April) and were accommodated by local families.

Historic ceremony

The twinning ceremony commenced with a Town Twinning Mass celebrated by Canon Tony King P.P., followed by a colourful Parade to the Castle led by the 25th Battalion of Athenry FCA, and the members of Scoil Chroí Naofa Medieval Town Band under the direction of Principal, Mrs. Teresa Neylon. The attendance included Mr. Pat O’Sullivan, Mayor of County Galway, Marie Elaine Paudevigry, French Consul for the West of Ireland, Minister of State Mr. Noel Treacy T.D., and Mr. Donal O’Donoughue, Co. Manager.

The Twinning Charter, which was in Irish, Breton, English and French, was signed by Peter Feeney, Chairperson of Athenry Community Council, and Michel Fourget, Deputy Mayor of Quimperle. That evening the Town Twinning Banquet was held in the Newpark Hotel.

First contact

The original idea of twinning came from Conor Gavin, Dunmore, who suggested to his fellow teacher, Gerry Burke that Athenry should twin with Quimperle, as Dunmore had twinned with a neighbouring town of Querrien. Eight representatives from local voluntary organizations went on an exploratory visit to Quimperle in June 2002, where they received a warm welcome from the twinning committee, some of who had already visited Athenry as part of a delegation from Querrien to Dunmore.

Old and modern Quimperle

Quimperle is in the Department of Finistere in Brittany, and has a population of 12000 (including the surrounding canton). The town site has been occupied since pre-history. The present town, which has Gallo-Roman remains, was built in 1300 on an island where the rivers Isole and Elle meet to form the Laita. It was originally a walled town, but the walls were dismantled in 1600. The abbey church of the Holy Cross (Sainte-Croix) dates from 11th century and has many interesting artifacts. Lorient, which is a seaport twinned with Galway, is about 20 minutes-drive from Quimperle. There are some nice fishing villages within a few kilometres. The picturesque town of Port-Avon, where the impressionist painter, Gauguin, lived for some time, is also in the vicinity and has an art gallery displaying some of his works.

Indeed, the Irish painter, Walter Osborne, lived in Quimperle and his most famous painting, an Apple Orchard, was painted there.

Modern Quimperle has a hospital, 3 primary and 2 post-primary schools. It has 2 factories, a meat plant and the largest cigarette-paper factory in the world. A facility for recycling ten different waste materials is a short distance from the town.

Weeklong events

The visitors had an interesting and busy week in Athenry which included: a walking tour of Athenry led by Prof. Etienne Rynne; a visit to the local Soccer and GAA clubs, where they tried their hand at hurling, which was not nearly as simple as it looked when played by the locals; a bus tour of Connemara and an interesting visit to the Mellows College Organic Farm hosted by Principal, Ger Shortle and Sinead Devaney of Teagasc; a meeting with local Principal teachers at Carnaun School hosted by Finbarr O’Regan, where pupil exchanges and a website were discussed.

Athenry ADC Project

Manager, Bernadette O’Shea organized a successful meeting with local business people. Pat O’Sullivan, County Mayor, hosted an official reception in the County Hall, and this was followed by visits to the factories of Royal Tara and Galway Crystal.

Farewell and future contacts

A farewell night of Irish music and dance took place in the Castlegate Hotel on Friday, 25th April, and the visitors expressed their hope to return to Athenry.

Next year a delegation from Athenry will travel to Quimperle to sign the twinning Charter and complete the official twinning process. Exchanges between students are in progress and also between soccer clubs in Quimperle and Athenry.

Members of Athenry Town Twinning Committee:

Chairperson: Gerry Burke,

Secretary: Ann Monaghan,

Treasurer: Gerry Ahern,

Committee – Tommy Moran, Bernadette O’Shea, Prof. Etienne Rynne, Muriel Nolan, Bridie Fahy, Assumpta Burke, Edward Waldron, Margaret Hannon, Helen Reidy, Ann Zonenblick, Aideen Rynne, Tracey Kelly, Margaret O’Connor, Linda Meyler, Sean Meyler, Chris Flannery, Ruth Dobbyn-O’Dea, Ann Keary, Paul Mitchell, Mary Murray and Harry Monson.

Members of QuimperleTown Twinning Committee:

Chairperson: Foucher Sylvaine, Forget Michel, Chretian, Genevieve, Foucher Laurent, Laine Jean Marc, Laine Mary Annick, Delbut Claude, Delbut Yvonne, Henry Bernard, Henry Martine, Plouet Loic, Plouet Marion, Dergorn Roger, Dargorn Mimi, Degrez Jean-Marc, Degrez Sabrina, Petit Antoinette, Plouet Jean, Plouet Simone, Prima Loic, Prima Anne, Plouet Catherine, Plouet Katell, Danze Gilles, Danze Celine, Danze Auregan, Dedours Remi, Dedours Jacqueline, Dedours Simon, Sanlanne Francoise, Scheitezer Gilles, Segui Jean, Bazoin Patrick.

Thanks to the Host Families: Gerry and Assumpta Burke, Edward and Ann Waldron, Tommy and  Mary Quinn, Muriel Nolan, Adrian and Patricia Blighe, Jim and Helen Reidy, John and Barbara Coyne, Gerry and Geraldine Ahern, Sean and Ann Newell, Gerry and Ruth Shortle, Etienne and Aideen Rynne, Joe and Eileen Glynn, Conor and Marie Gavin and Ann Zonenblick.

Thanks to our Sponsors:

Fahy’s Centra Supermarket, C&F Tooling, Dr. Kathleen Coffey, Drs. Michael McGloin and Bridget Keane, Owen Keating Wholesale Ltd., Athenry Credit Union Ltd., Athenry Community Council Trust Ltd., Laffey’s Garage Ltd., O’Hara Solicitors, Burke’s Gift Centre, Brady’s Meat Market, Castlegate Hotel, New Park Hotei, Keane’s Bar and Restaurant, Ulster Bank Ltd., Pauline Gibbons and Cosmo Supermarket.

Feature Photo: Official Town Twinning Ceremony in Athenry Castle

Muriel Nolan is a retired local government official and is very active in our voluntary community.

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About this record

Written by Murial Nolan

Published here 02 Feb 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

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