Town Twinning Association

Skerries is twinned with the Canton of Guichen (Brittany)

What is Town Twinning?

Town Twinning aims to foster friendship between communities by means of cultural, sporting and interest-centred contacts and exchanges.  It exists on a premise of mutual hospitality, by opening homes to each other and extending the hand of friendship. Town Twinning is actively supported by the European Commission under its Europe for Citizens initiative.

Benefits of Town Twinning

Town Twinning is a great experience for all – families, individuals, students and groups. It’s a way of seeing how other people live and of making new friends.  People share their experiences of everyday life. Learning a foreign language and experiencing a different culture can be most rewarding for all age groups, especially for young people

Relationship between Skerries and the Canton of Guichen

Skerries officially twinned with the Canton of Guichen in 1994. Over the years hundreds of people have exchanged visits. These have included

  • School exchanges between our second level schools, as well as individual student exchanges.  
  • Visits to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have been held in both areas.  
  • A choral exchange (held over two years) was another major undertaking, with choirs from each area coming together to perform in public.
  • Interest-centered visits on themes such as the environment, water provision and waste disposal have also taken place.  
  • A regular feature has been sports exchanges for teenagers from both Skerries and Guichen which has given children the opportunity to live in each other’s homes and get to know how family life works in each other’s countries as well as trying new sports and leisure activities.
  • In recent years  STTA has partnered with Skerries Walking Club and organised walks and rambles in both Fingal and Guichen.

The Canton of Guichen

Guichen is a canton (administrative grouping) of small towns and villages in the départment of Ille-et- Vilaine in east Brittany.  It lies 15 km. south-west of Rennes, the fifth largest city in France and the capital of Brittany.  It combines rural landscape and pretty small towns.  The river Vilaine flows through the canton and boating and fishing activities are popular. The Vilaine has a towpath where one can enjoy walking and cycling in an area of unspoilt nature with some dramatic cliffs along the way. The canton provides a commuter base for many who travel daily to work in Rennes and its environs. Horticulture and agriculture also provide employment, as well as a number of smaller industries.   Each town has its own local council with locally elected councillors.  There are well-equipped community centres in each town providing facilities for indoor and outdoor sports and cultural activities. Each town has one or more primary schools and there are three second-level schools in the canton.

Our counterpart organisation in Guichen is the “Comité des Relations Internationales des Communes jumeleés (CRIC) – Committee of International Relations of the twinned Communes” Established on 22 January 1990, CRIC works with its 8 member communes to promote the notion of European citizenship and to establish friendship and close relations between citizens through “a window opening on Europe and the World”.

European Awards

The twinning between Skerries and the Canton of Guichen is one of the more successful twinning arrangements in Ireland. STTA and CRIC have twice been awarded the Etoile d’Or du Jumelage (Gold Star of Twinning) by the European Commission for their work in developing the twinning concept.

Srem (Poland)

CRIC has an active link with Srem which lies on the Warta river and is about 40Km south of Poznan. It has a population of some 30,000. In recent years people from Skerries and Srem have participated in parallel visits to Guichen. In 2019, two representatives from Skerries visited Srem along with a delegation from Guichen. Skerries invited Srem to send a delegation to Skerries in August 2020 but this was postponed due to Covid19.

Contact Us

Email : skerriestwinning@gmail.com

Website : new site to be launched in mid 2021

Facebook :   Skerries Town Twinning Association https://www.facebook.com/SkerriesTownTwinningAssociation

Covid 19 – like most community organisations Skerries Town Twinning has been unable to carry out its normal activities due to Covid 19 restrictions.  Nevertheless we keep in touch with our friends in Guichen and Srem via Zoom and email. We exchange regular newsletters and hold virtual meetings on Zoom. We have set up a “language buddy” initiative whereby individuals who want to improve their knowledge of French are paired with an individual in Guichen who wants to improve his/her knowledge of English.  We are also trying to establish links between local schools.

Town Twinning – Frequently Asked Questions

If I agree to host visitors what is expected of me?

You are asked to give your visitors a warm welcome to your home. You provide bed, breakfast, lunch/picnic and evening meal.  It’s the same as hosting any visitors to your home.  

Do I get paid for hosting?

No – one of the principles of town twinning is that people give without expecting anything in return. However, it’s normal practice for visitors to bring a small gift for their host family.

I’m nervous about hosting people I don’t know – any advice?

It’s normal to be nervous. Your visitors will also be nervous.  It’s part of the excitement of the experience.  W.B. Yeats is credited with saying that “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet”. Twinning is about friendship and making new friends.  All you have to do is be open to the idea of welcoming people and you’ll find that your visitors will reciprocate.

I don’t speak the language – how can I communicate?

Most people who have participated over the years don’t speak another language but it has never been a major problem. People communicate using dictionaries, sign language and now with phone apps it’s easier than ever.  If necessary there are always members of the committee available to assist.

What about food? What do they eat?

You should give your visitors the same kind of food that you eat yourself unless a person has a special dietary consideration such as coeliac.  Visitors to Ireland expect to see Irish food in the same way as visitors to France expect to see French food.  It’s quite common for host families to arrange with each other to have a joint meal for their visitors and share the experience.

How long do visits last?

Group visits usually last 4/5 days. The Twinning Committee is aware that people may have to work on some of the days but it’s usually possible to make arrangements with other host families to look after visitors in such circumstances. 

Are group activities organised for the visit?

Yes –  group activities are organised  where visitors and host families can meet up and enjoy the social benefits of twinning.

Last updated 12 February 2021