A group of 14 people which included six teenagers travelled to Bannalec in Brittany this month as part of the ongoing Castleisland/Sliabh Luachra Twinning programme. Last October a group from Bannalec stayed in Castleisland to attend the Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival.
They were hosted by eight families during their stay here and five of those families made the trip to Bannalec. The Castleisland/Sliabh Luachra group were very well looked after during their stay in Bannalec. A number of trips and events were organised by the Bannalec Twinning committee and these were greatly enjoyed by the group.
A number of the visitors were able to practice and improve the French they learned in school.
The visitors and their hosts attended the Lorient Celtic Festival. This annual festival had an Irish theme this year and President Michael D. Higgins opened the festival. The Castleisland/ group spent a day there enjoying the festive atmosphere with its numerous stalls, event tents, eating areas, live bands and amusement areas. The Breton’s are proud of their Celtic heritage and the Lorient Celtic festival is a huge event which attracts an estimated 700,000 visitors to the city
from around the world each year.
This year 77 pipe bands and Celtic dancing groups, representing the Celtic nations from Galicia in Northern Spain to Scotland, entertained the crowds. In addition there were nightly concerts with singers and groups performing on the various stages.
The tourists were provided with one of the local guides to show them around the city centre and to gain entry to the two and half hour spectacular show of Celtic pipe bands and dancing groups in the local football stadium. The highlights of the show for the Castleisland group were the Irish performers: singer Gráinne Holland who opened the show and later by Rinceoirí Cois Laoi dance ensemble from Cork backed by the New Ross and District Pipe Band; Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band and The Queensland Irish Association Pipe Band.
There were other trips around parts of Brittany including to the pre-historic standing stone columns in Carnac, the Traou Mad galette biscuit factory in Pont Aven, a market in Moelan-sur-Mer and a tour around the central highlands of western Brittany.
A civic reception for the visitors was held and the Mayor of Bannalec, Yves Andre, welcomed the group to the town. Group chairman, John O’Donoghue thanked the Mayor and the people of Bannalec for their generosity and spoke about the numerous friendships and relationships that had built up between the people of both towns. He expressed the hope that more people from Castleisland and Sliabh Luachra will travel to Bannalec with the Twinning group in future years. The reception was followed by dinner in a local restaurant.
After four days in Bannalec the group travelled by bus to St Malo on the north Brittany coast and spent a night there. St. Malo is an old port with a walled city and beaches which some took advantage of. The last day the group travelled along the north coast as they made their way back to Roscoff to board the Ferry to return home.
” This year’s visit to Bannalec is the fifth undertaken by the Castleisland/Sliabh Luachra Twinning and the next planned visit will be in 2016. Next year a group from Bannalec will visit Castleisland and the Twinning Committee we’ll be planning for
that in the New Year.
If anyone would like more information about the Twinning or partake in future twinning events please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 087-2462098 or 085-1740677,” said founder member, John O’Donoghue.
P.S.: With that I send best wishes to Denise and Paddy McCrohan who moved from their adopted home in Scartaglin last year to be near their children and grand-children in England. Denise and Paddy put their hearts into the twinning programme during their time in this area. I know they keep in touch with the news from ‘home’ through the webpages of The Maine Valley Post. I know because I got an email from them only a couple of week ago.
They will be glad to know that the programme is in good hands and that the bonds with our Celtic cousins are deepening.
My thanks to John O’Donoghue for the comprehensive update.