The Wicklow Municipal District intends to establish a committee to strengthen ties between Wicklow Town and its twin towns in Germany, France and Wales.
The Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day committee made a presentation at the beginning of the July monthly municipal district meeting, which was invited to Eichenzell to participate in the 200th birthday celebrations of the area of Fulda.
Garrett O’Reilly, Geoff Kane and Tara Gargan of the Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee spoke in the council chamber about how seriously the citizens of Eichenzel take engagement with the City of Wicklow. Wicklow city signs are evident in the city center and all entrances to the city.
Cllr Irene Winters recalled when efforts were first made in 2009 to link the city of Wicklow with Eichenzel, and was keen to enhance relations between the two cities.
“We need to encourage as much interaction as possible. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer. They’re looking for young people to live there, and to encourage people to lower the cost of childcare.” They are also heavily involved in renewable energy.
“They are connected with us culturally and economically. They want to connect with people in our community, and we want to engage with their community, and the more we can encourage that, the better.”
Clare Shay Cullen was a recent visitor to Würzburg as part of the Wicklow County Council delegation, and she also visited Eichenzell during the visit.
“His interest in the whole twinning realm was mind-blowing, and to be honest, it took me by surprise,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be just about the link between the city of Wicklow and Eichenzel, I want it to be for the district. We need to make it bigger than just the city.
“The whole school area and exchanges is something we need to go through. They will get a lot out of coming here, as are our kids going there culturally.”
Clerk John Snell also felt that more could be done to capitalize on the twin opportunities.
“We are in an ideal position to put something together and work collectively, providing opportunities for both sectors. Language also comes into this with schools.
“There are children in our district who want to speak French and German, and there are German children who want to learn English.
“There are also loads of sports clubs that would also be interested. Employment opportunities are something else that we need to look at.”
He also praised the Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee for hosting German visitors during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year.
“I have to commend the committee for how much effort they put into hosting our visitors. We see them at the band stand during the parade and that’s it. There’s no connection and we’re going to work on it.”
“It will be beautiful to host some of our own visitors for the Wicklow Regatta 2023.”
Committee members were invited to Eichenzell by visiting dignitaries who had returned to Wicklow in Ark while enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
During his visit he met the mayor of Eichenzel, Joan of Rothmund and the head of the twin group Brigitte Kompel of the city of Eichenzel.
The group of Wicklow guests were brought on a guided tour of the sympathetically renovated town hall at Eichenzel Castle, during which they were also taken to a local community area, the Eichenzeler Wartturm, which is currently run by a local hiking group. and features the availability of solar charge points for cyclists as well as picnic tables and a serving area to facilitate community events.
Later that evening, Andrea Harms, the vice chairman of the Eichenzel Twinning Committee, brought the Wicklow delegation to dinner at a community beer garden that supports people with intellectual disabilities.
Later in his travels he was brought to visit Point Alpha, the former Iron Curtain crossing point between East and West Germany. Andrea also brought the group on a walking tour of the city of Fulda, including the Fulda Cathedral, founded in 744 by Stormi, a disciple of St. Boniface.
He also visited the site of the 200th anniversary celebrations at Castle Fassaneri, which ended with a spectacular water and light show.
Crafted knitwear from Shuttle Knits Ireland, based in the town of Wicklow, was presented as a gift of thanks to the hosts for all their hospitality.
Clerk Gail Dunne commented: “Anyone who’s been there will be able to tell you how beautiful it is. No doubt, they do it better than us.”
“I went there in 2009 where they did a ceremony to connect with the city of Wicklow, and over 400 people attended. Tickets sold out after 18 minutes. That shows how seriously they took it .
“We have to be realistic, it will cost money to do all this. It’s something we need to look at from a budgetary point of view, but it will be the best money we’ve ever spent as a council.”
Cllr Mary Kavanagh suggests involving host families, who provide accommodations to visitors to the Twin Cities of Wicklow.
“More people will be encouraged to open their doors to the people as it will be reciprocal. We have to put in more effort.”
€6,000 is currently set aside in the Wicklow Municipal District budget for twinning. A committee will be formed to enhance Wicklow’s status as a Twin Town, to be led by the Wicklow St. Patrick’s Day Committee.
Cathoirlich Paul O’Brien of the Wicklow Municipal District said: “It can’t be a city thing, it has to be a district.
“It cannot be a box ticking exercise and schools and clubs are something we need to focus on. It needs a huge input from all of us. ,