Back in January Mayor Reichelt, former Mayor Sullivan, and Sean Cahillane, President of the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England, met in Boston with the Lord Mayor of Kerry County Council to continue our discussion of the creation of our first Sister Cities partnership started the previous September.
Now just under a year later we traveled to Ireland to officially sign our Sister City agreement with Dingle, Ireland.
We selected Ireland and Dingle for a number of reasons. A large percentage of our local and regional population are of Irish descent and more specifically from the Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands.
The Big E, New England's largest Fair, has for the past 15 years invited merchants from Dingle to setup shop in the international Young Building. With the help of Brian and Máiread de Staic, of Brian de Staic Jewellery, we hope to expand this merchant connection more permanently on both sides of the Pond.
Our West Springfield Public Schools - MA students have also traveled abroad to Dingle last year and plan to go again next year. The Irish Cultural Center has been instrumental in making these trips possible and the students have had incredible experiences.
As we expand our relationship with Dingle we'll begin hosting their students here in West Side so that both our schools will benefit. Building upon this exchange will help us all explore Irish history and heritage.
Through this endeavor we hope to expand West Side's opportunities beyond our community's boundaries.