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New Danville-Carrickfergus exchanges planned

DANVILLE SISTER CITIES

News release

The Danville Sister Cities Commission recently learned that its sister city, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, is as anxious as the local group to reconnect with exchanges that have been the highlight of the relationship for the past 12 years.

In a Zoom call Peter Johnson, the current mayor of the merged Northern Irish Antrim Council, was joined by the Council’s ex-Mayor Audrey Wales MBE who was in Danville three years ago, and Nicola Rowles, the Council’s Director of Development. The Irish group reported that the percentage of adults who have been vaccinated in Northern Ireland, as in Great Britain, is as high or slightly higher than the percentage in the states, meaning that travel between the two countries should become increasingly easier.

In a letter, the Danville SC Commission had earlier asked about reconnecting with exchanges that focused on one or more of the following topics: tourism, whiskey, music, and/or art.

Mayor Johnson and Ms. Rowles talked about the growing importance of both tourism and whiskey and beer for the Northern Irish economy.

Mayor Audrey Wales MBE highlighted the recently opened tourist attraction, the Gobbins, “the most dramatic cliff walk in Europe,” on the Irish Sea just north of Carrickfergus. At the Gobbins, visitors can walk along a series of narrow bridges over crashing waves and through tunnels that lead through solid basalt boulders and dip below sea level.

In April the Danville SC group premiered a popular short video, “A Wee Bit of Ireland in Danville,” hosted by SC Commissioner Father Anthony McLaughlin. The half-hour program consists of three 10-minute visits to the local homes of Karen and Andy Ryan, Russ and Margo Goodwin, and Ray and Cindy Hammond. The video is now available on Facebook: put “Kentucky Sister Cities” in the upper left-hand search box, then scroll down to the second item, “Danville video.”

The SC exchange of high school students this summer had to be delayed after the Irish UPLIFT group that leads summer camps for the West T. Hill Community Theater was canceled because of the pandemic. The Danville commission hopes to enlarge this exchange and will offer scholarships for next summer’s high school exchange.

Since July, 2009, when Danville and Carrickfergus became officially “twined,” more than 300 Danvillians have visited Carrickfergus. There have been several arts or cultural ambassador exchanges, three SC trips to Ireland, visits of sports teams, and family visits.

Although the Danville Sister Cities Commission receives token funding through the city, it is  funded primarily through local sponsors ($50) and benefactors ($100).