An Official Welcome reception was held at Áras Contae an Chláir last evening to celebrate key landmark anniversaries of twinning relationships between Ennis and Langenfeld in Germany and the US city of Phoenix.
Hosted by Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly, and Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Cooney, the event was attended by local government and community representatives from Langenfeld and Phoenix who have travelled to Ireland to mark the 10th and 35th anniversaries respectively of their links with the Clare county town.
Since the formation of the twinning relationship between Ennis and the Arizona State Capital of Phoenix in 1988, civic and community leaders from both sides of the Atlantic have visited each other on exchanges and have developed strong ties and personal friendships, while hundreds of youths have participated in foreign exchanges over the years.
The idea of a twinning arrangement between Langenfeld, located in North-Rhine-Westphalia between Düsseldorf and Cologne in the district of Mettmann, and Ennis was first identified by the Irish Embassy in Berlin in 2009. Following numerous student and sports exchanges, the relationship was formalised in 2013 with the signing of a twinning charter.
Cllr Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, described the strength of the relationships that has developed between Langenfeld, Phoenix and Ennis over the past 10- and 35-year periods as “remarkable”.
“Twinning relationships mean more than just a partnership agreement that has been signed between local authorities. They are about peoples from different sides of the world coming together in the spirit of friendship, cooperation, shared endeavour, and peace,” stated the Cathaoirleach.
He added, “In a world increasingly fraught by conflict, territorial disputes, and the displacement of millions of people, we must remind ourselves of why we must continue to reach out the hand of friendship so that others may follow our lead. We want to grow the strong bonds that have been created and we want to encourage our young people to explore different cultures and develop new friendships. And we want to send a message out to the wider community that we collectively embrace our twinning links, that we are proud of our common association, and we look forward to creating new and exciting opportunities for the people of Ennis, Langenfeld and Phoenix into the future.”
Speaking last evening, Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly, said the longstanding partnerships have helped to bridge geographical and cultural divides and they have created lasting friendships between the people of the sister locations.
He continued, “Political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, technical experts, teachers and students from Ennis and Phoenix have participated in regular exchanges. The Youth Ambassador Programme has particularly helped to consolidate and grow the excellent relationship that now exists. It is very important that we celebrate these real and enduring associations.”
Mayor Daly said it was a great honour for the people of Ennis to be twinned with Langenfeld and Phoenix.
“I look forward to the outcome of the continued cultural and community exchanges between the locations over the coming months and years as we seek to build further on the links that have already been established,” he added.
Commenting on her participation in fostering relations between Ennis and their twinning partners, Ennis Municipal District Councillor Mary Howard said, “Developing twinning relationships promotes and fosters tourism, economic development and cultural appreciation. This has been achieved with the many visiting exchanges between Ennis, Langenfeld and Phoenix. The Elected Members and the people of Ennis are very proud of their links with both locations, and we very much look forward to witnessing them flourish into the future.”
A return visit to Langenfeld by a delegation from Ennis will take place later this month following an invitation issued by the chairman of the executive council (Bürgermeister) of Langenfeld, Frank Schneider.