Newport News, Virginia, USA Twins With Carrigaline Municipal District
‘You’ve stolen our hearts!’ declared visiting Councilwoman Dr Patricia Woodbury at a function in Carrigaline Court Hotel marking the first leg of the twinning of the City of Newport News, Virginia, USA with Carrigaline Municipal District (MD).
Writes Leo McMahon
It was the final event of a hectic and highly successful five day visit in which hands of friendship across the Atlantic Ocean were firmly grasped ahead of the second leg of twinning in Newport News this summer.
Signatories of the charters were chairperson of Carrigaline MD Cllr Ben Dalton-O’Sullivan, Councilwoman Woodbury, Jim Kelly, chairperson of Carrigaline Twinning Association; Fred J Kohlman Jnr, president of Sister Cities Newport News; Valerie O’Sullivan, Divisional Manager (South), Cork County Council and Michael Wall, chairperson of Carrigaline Community Association.
Cead Mile Failte were extended at a Prosecco reception by MD senior executive officer Nicola Radley along with Cllr Dalton-O’Sullivan who stressed the importance of twinning to strengthen political, cultural, tourism, heritage, trade, social and economic links between both areas and its citizens.
‘There is a strong, verifiable historical link between Carrigaline and Newport News. 400 years ago, Daniel Gookin of Carrigaline and William Newce landed on the shores of the James River in the colony of Virginia and established a large homestead on what is Newport News Point, laying down the foundations of which has become the city of Newport News’, said Cllr O’Sullivan who proposed an Irish toast to the new American friends.
‘Where I come from, southern Virginia, is known for its hospitality but we don’t have a thing on you. This has been such a thrilling experience for all of us’ said vibrant 87 years young Cllr Woodbury who concluded by singing, ‘When Irish eyes are smiling, sure it steals your heart away’.
Carrigaline resident Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD joined in the welcome, congratulations and tributes to the Sister City/twinning bodies and local authorities as well as Hiram Morgan of University College Cork who provided the historical background about the link at a seminar three years ago.
Quite apart from the mutual benefits already referred to, a twinning led to lots of friendships and warm relationships and was consistent with the Government’s Global Ireland Project said the Minister, fresh from a St Patrick’s trip to Chicago and Toronto.
Fred Kohlman introduced the other members of the delegation from the port city which has a population of around 186,000; Priscilla Bele, Lou Call, Viki Chaffee Hanke, Ernestine Dole, Bill Eastburn, Holly Koons, Jennifer Privette, William Reddy, Sarah Sutton, Cllr Woodbury and his wife of 51 years Phyllis Kohlman. Its members have backgrounds in local government, teaching, nursing, real estate, shipbuilding, the arts, the revenue, financial planning and more.
Expressing thanks, Fred said the Newport News delegation was overwhelmed by the love, friendship and events throughout the MD. ‘When you say 100,000 welcomes, we’ve felt every one of them,’ he added.
Valerie O’Sullivan said that for around 175 years, many Corkonians had looked out beyond Cork Harbour (part of which is in Carrigaline MD) to ‘next stop America’ and with Cork men key founders of what was to become Newport News, the twinning just over 400 years later was only right and fitting.
Jim Kelly humorously added his welcome and delight at the success of the twinning programme of events and thanked fellow committee members, especially his wife Michelle.
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