A 23-strong delegation from County Wicklow travelled to Würzburg in Germany last week for the St Kilian’s Festival which coincided with the visit of President Michael D Higgins.
Amongst the delegation were the Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Frank Curran, and the Leas Cathaoirleach, Cllr Pat Kennedy, who were invited by the Mayor of Würzburg to have lunch with President Higgins.
The full delegation was invited to a reception at the Mainfranken University Library where the President was accompanied by his wife Sabina; Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Simon Coveney TD; Ambassador Michael Collins and Mrs Collins; First Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms Aoife McGarry (who is from Bray)and Head of Protocol at the Department, Mr Feilim McLaughlin, amongst others.
The members of the delegation also attended a lecture by Dr Declan Marmion of Maynooth University, and also the Kiliani parade, the opening of the festival and the procession and High Mass at the Cathedral.
Speaking at one of the events, Mr Curran said he looked forward to meeting the Councillors of Stadt Würzburg and the members of the German Irish Society, saying: “I know that there are very warm friendships established between our communities which even predate the official partnership . You are great Ambassadors for County Wicklow and we look forward to welcoming you, your friends and families to Wicklow again.”
He pointed out that County Wicklow’s very strong official relationship with the City of Würzburg was almost 20 years old and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Partnership Agreement in Bray “we look forward to welcoming a delegation from Würzburg in October of this year.”
Cllr Kennedy said it was a great honour to lead the delegation from Bray and County Wicklow to the wonderful city of Würzburg adding: “Since its establishment on 1st November 1999 our partnership has fostered genuine friendships and meaningful partnerships between our communities.” Thanks were due, he said, to Matthias Fleckenstein of the German Irish Society and George Jones and the Irish German Society and their committees for maintaining this lively vibrant relationship.
He recalled how in April a group of 30 Vice Principals from Regierung Von Unterfranken came to Wicklow as part of an Erasmus Programme saying: “We were happy to help put together a diverse programme and to introduce the relevant colleges and government agencies in Dublin and in Wicklow.”
Cllr Kennedy said that through the school exchanges – such as the long established relationship between St Kilians, Bray and the Matthias Grünwald Gymnasium and the more recently established links between Coláiste Craobh Abhainn, Kilcoole and the Riemenschneider School, and Loreto Bray and the Marie Ward School – “the seeds of friendship had been sown on the very fertile minds of our young people and have seen lifelong friendships grow and flourish.”
On the 1st November 1999, the first part of the “Partnership Agreement” between Bray, County Wicklow, and Würzburg was signed “in the hope that the seeds of friendship sown between our communities, will grow and strengthen and will benefit our citizens.” Cllr Kennedy added: “I think that it is fair to say that this hope has been realised.”
The Irish German Society is open to residents of County Wicklow and events and visits organised by the society are advertised . This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership of Wicklow with Würzburg .