On April 6th 1996 seventeen people from Carrickmacross were in Carhaix to witness the signing of the charter, which officially marked the twinning of the two towns. The seventeen were: UDC Chairman Francie O’Donoghue, Town Twinning Chairman Michael Mc Mahon, Town Twinning Secretary Pádraig Breathnach, Clare Mc Mahon, Sinéad Breathnach, Carrickmacross Chamber of Commerce Delegate Cathal Birdy, Robert Malone, Rose Malone, Eddie O’Neill, Eileen O’Neill, Florence Byrne, Noreen Townshend, Daragh O’Gorman, Raymond Hughes, Cllr Shane O’Hanlon and George Keegan who was the local reporter with the Northern Standard.
On Wednesday, 12 July 2006 there were thirty seven people from Carrickmacross to witness the re-reading of the Twinning Charter and to participate in the celebrations. They included Francie O’Donoghue, Town Twinning Chairman Michael Mc Mahon, Clare Mc Mahon, Town Twinning Treasurer Cathal Birdy, Madeleine Birdy, Florence Byrne, Robert Malone, Town Twinning Secretary Rose Malone, Pádraig Breathnach and Sinéad Breathnach from the delegation over ten years ago. They were joined by Carrickmacross Mayor Cllr Matt Carthy, Cllr Teresa Carolan, Town Clerk Frances Matthews, Gabriel Finnegan, Mary Finnegan, Thomas Cunningham, Ann Cunningham, Maria Cunningham, Francie Mc Givney, Nancy Mc Givney, Jim Fox, Pauline Fox, Fiona Fox, Laura Hughes, Paddy Martin, Maura Martin, Paula Gowan, Maurice Gowan, Donagh Goulding, Siobhán Goulding (Eddie & Eileen O’Neill’s daughter) Francis Matthews, Seán O’Hagan, Pauline O’Hagan, Cian Matthews, Euan Matthews, Martin Mc Caul and Joan Mc Caul.
Unlike 1996, when the delegation of seventeen went for a long weekend, the group of 2006 left for eight days from Galway Airport on Saturday July 8th. They were met at Lorient Airport by a French coach and taken to spend three nights in the four star hotel Manche Océan in the beautiful city of Vannes. From there they visited the beach at Quiberon and went on to Carnac which is world renowned for its standing stone alignments. They enjoyed a boat trip around the islands of the Gulf de Morbihan, spent time in the 13th century Suscinio Castle and enjoyed the warm water and pebble beach at Pointe de Penvins. Some of the best fun was watching the World Cup with the locals and the sing-a-long in O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub in Vannes.
The group headed for Carhaix on Tuesday evening and spent until Saturday afternoon July 15th with Carhaix families. There was a formal ceremony in Carhaix Town Hall on Wednesday evening. The Twinning Charter was read in English, by Matt Carthy, in Irish by Fiona Fox, in French by Mayor Cristian Troadec and in Breton by Vincent Abaziou. The two mayors made speeches lauding the work done by the Twinning Associations. Matt Carthy noted that 997 people, adults and students, have participated in exchanges, holidays or work placement over the years. Carhaix Town twinning Committee President Marie-Louise Huiban recalled the history of the project in detail since Michael Mc Mahon wrote the first letter of introduction to the Mayor of Carhaix, Jean Pierre Jeudy, in 1993. Michael in his speech referred to the highlights and some of the key people involved over the years. He made special mention of the Charter Signatories André Le Roux and Francie O’Donoghue who were real allies in the early days of the Town Twinning.
Gifts were exchanged. Carrickmacross Mayor Matt Carthy presented a lovely piece of lace made by Art Teacher Teresa Kelly based on the New grange theme. The Carrickmacross Town Twinning Association presented a two panel painting in acrylic on canvas depicting symbols and imagery associated with Carhaix and Carrickmacross painted by Teresa’s husband Bob. Carhaix Mayor gave Matt Carthy a book on Breton culture and a framed photograph of the “Triomphe des Sonneurs” a mass assembly of Breton musicians and dancers in traditional costume. Michael Mc Mahon was given a wooden carved sculpture incorporating the shamrock and the triskele.
Among the high points later in the evening were the meal, hosted by the Mayor Cristian Troadec, followed by singing, music and dancing. Paula Gowan made and brought over an anniversary cake to mark the event. As well as being delicious to eat the cake was a work of art featuring the crests of Carrickmacross and Carhaix, 1996 – 2006 with the words Carrickmacross / Carhaix twinning Association in Irish and French.
Many of the group took time to exercise their muscles in the new adventure park in Carhaix, to go carting, bowling, swimming and to play pitch and putt. There was an impressive firework display to herald the national holiday on Thursday night. Friday, July 14th, Bastille Day, was celebrated with pipe band competitions, a street parade of bands from 24 regions dressed in traditional costumes, a musical festival and a fest noz or night festival.
Apart from the festivities, some of the group visited the Maison de l’Enfance in Carhaix. The Maison de L’Enfance is a dedicated building for children offering crèche facilities, play areas, child minding courses for people minding other peoples’ children in their homes and counselling for children at risk and their families / guardians. The building was partially funded from regional, state and EU grants. The Crematorium Trustees in Carhaix donated over €350,000 to the project. When the Crematorium was built some twenty years ago, it was decided to charge commercial rates, payable in advance, but all profits are donated to local charities or diverted to buying high technology equipment for the hospital. Some other people went on a guided tour of the Roman remains of Carhaix, which was known as Vorgium in the past.
Everybody agreed it was an excellent, good value for money trip (adults €550, young people €275 all in). Anyone interested in joining the Association or participating in twinning programmes should ring 042-9661097 or contact a committee member or any of the people mentioned above.