“En marche!” is the name and slogan of the new political party of Emmanuel Macron who hopes to revitalise France. Equally you could apply it to the group of Skerries walkers who have just spent an enjoyable week walking and hiking in the Canton of Guichen. A 30-strong group of all ages and interests, intent on exploring the walkways and trails, were accompanied by five teenagers, who were able to sample secondary school life during their week-long stay.
No sunny skies, but warm welcome for Skerries travellers !
A large group of Skerries locals travelled to our twin area, the Canton of Guichen, from 16th-21st July to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the charter of friendship between our two area. . Among those who travelled were several, who had been there at the original ceremonies twenty years ago. Accompanying the group were members of Rinceoil Fingal whose musical talents contributed greatly to the enjoyment of all the events. We also had the great pleasure of having the newly elected Mayor of Fingal, David O’Connor, with us.
The theme chosen for the celebrations was ‘Remembering the contribution of those who fought in the Second World War, who laid the future for the Europe of today’. There was also a group of participants from the Canton’s Polish twin town, Srem .
A whole programme of events was organised for us throughout the five day stay. One of the most interesting talks was on the enormous contribution made by Polish soldiers to the defence of Western Europe and the role they played in the war in France.
On Friday morning, we visited the War Graves in the cemetery in Rennes and laid wreaths to remember the efforts made by French, Polish and Irish combatants during World War II. Of particular interest for us were the graves of George Fitzpatrick, ( great uncle of the Grundy family in Skerries) and Sergeant Ross, ( (who was related to Harry Reynolds of Balbriggan). We also visited a number of retirement homes where we had the pleasure of meeting several of those who had fought for France and hearing their memories of those difficult times. We were delighted that our musicians came along and entertained the residents with selections of Irish music, which greatly added to the occasion. A further conference was held on the future of Europe and our responsibilities to ensuring freedom and equality across the Union.
The twelve young people, six from Skerries and six from Guichen who were involved in the three-week work camp, with the leaders and organisers.
Another highlight was a visit to the work camp in Laillé, where six young local students from Skerries Community College and their six counterparts from the Canton ware engaged in constructing a shelter in the local skate park. This three-week camp was nearing the end of its second week and we were able to see the structure taking shape. Everybody seemed to be having a good time and the Irish group were greatly heartened by hearing Irish voices and the addition of some packs of Tayto and Irish chocolate !
A formal re-signing of our charter of friendship took place in the presence of the eight mayors of the Canton. The twinning committee had also taken the opportunity to invite many of those who were involved with the original ceremonies in 1995. We were delighted to have our very own Lord Mayor with us, as David O’Connor looked resplendent in his chain of office. He took the occasion to present the Fingal flag to the assembly, which was very much appreciated. This was followed by a lively session with Rinceoil again providing the music and Irish, Poles and French united in Fallaí Luimnigh !
Fun and local games were planned for the Sunday. Undeterred by the grey skies, everybody enjoyed the afternoon. Workshops on weaving, galette making and local cider tasting proved very popular, even if the pétanque and other Breton games were a bit hampered by the damp conditions. A walking tour of local historical sites attracted a number of Skerries walkers, although the falling drizzle did dampen the enjoyment somewhat.
A lesson in galette making !
As all our SCA Committees are preparing for the 2015 AGM (Fri 09 September 2015, 8 p.m., Little Theatre), they look back over the past year or so. Here is what Geraldine McQuillan of Skerries Town Twinning Association wrote:
We have had a busy time over the past twelve months. Our big undertaking in 2014 was the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Twinning Ceremony in Skerries in 1994. The festivities took place in August and we welcomed 41 visitors from the Canton of Guichen for a four-day visit. The emphasis was on our common Celtic Heritage and we tried to include a range of activities for them, including workshops in set-dancing, celtic embroidery and traditional music. We had a lovely tour of Ardgillan Castle and Gardens and a guided walking tour of the town. One of the fun items was a boules contest. To commemorate our original twinning events in 1994, we unveiled a plaque on Red Island to mark the anniversary. A day long trip to Kilkenny city gave them a taste of another heritage town.
Alongside these events, we ran a separate programme of sports and cultural activities for the twelve children who were among the group. It was an exhausting, but very enjoyable few days and we are most grateful to the many individuals and groups who lent their cooperation for the event.
Earlier in the Spring 2014 we had organised an exchange of photographers. Three Skerries photographers visited the Canton of Guichen and in return, two photographers from Guichen came to Skerries. This led to a wonderful body of work entitled ‘Through Each Other’s Eyes,’ which we had the pleasure of exhibiting in Skerries Mills.
We had two projects this summer – a return trip to the Canton in July and our participation in an international youth camp held in Laillé in July. We had almost 40 participants in the July trip, including a group of traditional musicians from Rush. Apart from this, six teenage pupils from Skerries Community College travelled to France for a three-week camp, also in July. Their project was to construct a shelter in the public skateboard playground in Laillé, one of the main towns in the Canton of Guichen. They worked with six local teenagers, sharing the work, meals and leisure time activities with their French counterparts. A good time was had by all.
We’re always ready to welcome new initiatives. We have had approaches from the local badminton club in Laillé with a view to organising a visit to Skerries, so we will start to work on this soon. If you have any ideas for joint projects with the Canton of Guichen, why not get in touch with us and we’ll see how we can progress them?
Geraldine McQuillan, Secretary, Skerries Town Twinning Association; contact: email@example.com
Skerries Town Twinning Association, part of the Skerries Community Association, looks back on a very successful visit from France which marks the 20th anniversary of the first visit from Guichen!
Bon Retour en France !
Fond farewells, warm hugs and kisses on both cheeks were the order of the day on Tuesday afternoon last, when Skerries hosts bid ‘au revoir et bon retour’ to the 41 guests who had come to Skerries from the Canton of Guichen. They were here to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the twinning of the two areas. It seemed like no time since the visitors had arrived to blue skies, but, right on cue, the first rain of the five days fell, as they departed.
During their stay, the visitors, young and old, had packed in an eventful time. On Friday morning, the adults of the group had guided tours of Ardgillan Gardens and the Castle, while the younger visitors were warmly welcomed to the Cúl Camp in Skerries Harps GAA. In the afternoon the adults among the group had guided walking tours of Skerries, and the kids had a Treasure Hunt around the town.
Friday evening saw the official opening of the joint photographic venture, called ‘Through Each Other’s Eyes’ – photographers from Guichen and Skerries having photographed each other’s landscape and people. The opening was performed by Councillor Grainne McKenna, deputising for the Mayor of Fingal. There was a large crowd from across a broad spectrum of local people, many of whom had been among those who had welcomed the original visitors twenty years ago. Many of the photos were quickly sold, a tribute to the high quality of the works. Others photos were on display in Seasons, Rockabill, Parachute and The Plough restaurants.
On Saturday, an illustrated talk on ‘Twenty Years of Twinning’ took place in Keane’s Bus Bar and Skerries Town Twinning Association was pleased to welcome representatives from Rush, Loughshinny, Balrothery and Lusk Twinning Associations who spoke of their experience of having a twin town. On behalf of the Canton of Guichen, Philippe Gourronc, Jean-Paul Gachot and Jean-Paul Quéré made contributions to the discussion which followed the talk. Meanwhile a drama workshop occupied the younger folk. Workshops on Celtic embroidery, set dancing and traditional music were also organised. An evening of music and song, by young Skerries artists took place in Café Jacques to round off a busy day.
At Mass on Sunday, there were French, English and Irish readings, followed by a display of Breton music and dancing outside St. Patrick’s Church, before a colourful parade set out for Guichen Way ( on Red Island), where despite the strong breeze, a beautifully engraved piece of Milverton granite commemorating the twentieth anniversary was unveiled and the twinning promise of friendship and cooperation was renewed. This plaque was kindly organised and donated by Wisteria Garden, Strand Street. This plaque will be incorporated into the new Town Garden, beside the Library, when it is completed.
On Sunday afternoon a hotly contested Boules tournament took place at The Dorn. Eight teams were formed (each comprising French and Skerries participants). After several rounds of heats, the winners, aptly named ‘The Goats’, narrowly defeated ‘The Bears’ amid much fun and laughter and a fine air of competitiveness. A return match is promised in Guichen next year, when a group will travel for the twentieth celebrations there. A special Dinner was held on Sunday evening in Skerries Golf Club.
Bright and early on Monday morning, the Guichen group, accompanied by three Skerries members set out for a day-long excursion to Kilkenny. It was an excellent day, the weather held up and there was an enjoyable guided tour of St. Canice’s Cathedral, with many of the group climbing the Round Tower, followed by a picnic and tour of Kilkenny Castle. A little retail therapy followed and all were glad to climb aboard the bus for the return trip to Skerries. A final evening of singing and music was held in Joe May’s and despite the weariness which was beginning to creep in, a very lively session took place, with Skerries and Guichen singers and musicians contributing in turn to the entertainment.
Finally, for the brave-hearted, a quick trip to Dublin took place on Tuesday morning, before packing of bags for the return trip via Rosslare.
The five day visit was a great success and plans are already afoot for the return in July 2015. Huge thanks must go to the host families and the many individuals and organisations, who gave so freely of their time and energy to make the trip such a success. If you would like to see more photos, follow us on Facebook or contact any of our members – firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org