Warm Wick­low wel­come for Cana­dian am­bas­sador

Bray People - - COUNCIL REPORT -

THE CANA­DIAN am­bas­sador to Ire­land, Loy­ola Hearn, paid a visit to Wick­low Town - along with his wife Mau­reen - last week.

Mr. Hearn was given a tour of the Wick­low Gaol be­fore mak­ing his way over to County Build­ings where he was in­tro­duced to elected of­fi­cials at the April County Coun­cil meet­ing.

Cathao­rileach Jimmy O’Shaugh­nessy said it was ‘a great hon­our’ to wel­come the am­bas­sador to the County Cham­ber. The two last met dur­ing Canada Come Home back in Septem­ber - County Wick­low’s flag­ship Gath­er­ing event at Coollattin House near Shil­le­lagh - where Cana­di­ans were in­vited to re­visit the site from which their an­ces­tors de­parted for Canada dur­ing land clear­ances from 1847 to 1856. Their de­scen­dents are now among the over four mil­lion Cana­di­ans of Ir­ish de­scent.

Mr. Loy­ola said it was a ‘plea­sure’ to be back in Wick­low again, fur­ther de­scrib­ing the Wick­low Gaol as ‘ a trea­sure’ and the type of thing ‘ that tourists want to see.’

He went on to ref­er­ence his own Ir­ish her­itage (his an­ces­tors de­parted for Canada from Car­rick-on-Suir in Tip­per­ary in 1797) as well as his back­ground grow­ing up in New­found­land, a prov­ince where half the pop­u­la­tion claim Ir­ish an­ces­try.

Mr. Hearn al­luded to the re­silience of the ini­tial Ir­ish ar­rivals con­tribut­ing to the Candian na­tional char­ac­ter as well as how Canada has wel­comed a new wave of Ir­ish em­i­grants in more re­cent times and reaf­firmed Canada’s com­mit­ment to Ire­land mov­ing for­ward.

‘ These young people will come home with skills to help im­prove the Ir­ish econ­omy,’ he claimed. ‘We [Canada] will do what we can to help push and pro­mote Ire­land.’

Mr. Hearn has al­ready been in­volved in sub­stan­tial ef­forts to this end, play­ing a piv­otal role in open­ing up the first di­rect flights to and from Ire­land and Canada, which he claimed would help tighten links be­tween the two coun­tries and greatly as­sist Cana­dian tourists hop­ing to visit Ire­land, la­belling the tourism po­ten­tial for County Wick­low as ‘phenom­e­nal.’

He also praised the EU- Canada Trade Agree­ment as an ‘im­mense op­por­tu­nity’ for build­ing eco­nomic bridges be­tween Ire­land and Canada and in­formed the cham­ber of ef­forts to make the first tran­satlan­tic ca­ble ( laid by Wick­low man Robert Halpin be­tween Valen­tia Is­land in Kerry and New­found­land in 1866) de­clared a World Her­itage Site.

Many of the coun­cil­lors then took the op­por­tu­nity to thank the am­bas­sador for his work in of­fice and con­tri­bu­tion to Canada Come Home, as well as prais­ing the past and present ties be­tween Canada and Ire­land.

‘Ire­land and Canada share a fan­tas­tic his­tory,’ said Cllr John Brady. ‘It is un­for­tu­nate that so many of our young people have had to em­i­grate, but many of them have gone to Canada and they are treated very well there.’

Cllr Pat Vance re­called his own mem­o­ries of Canada and the ‘won­der­ful people there’ while Cllr Tom For­tune praised the am­bas­sador for the ‘mas­sive im­pres­sion’ he made on ev­ery­one at Canada Come Home.

Cllr Pat Fitzger­ald af­firmed that ‘Canada has been good to Ire­land’ down through the years while Cllr Conal Ka­vanagh in­sisted that the his­toric links be­tween the na­tions were ‘very strong’ while de­cry­ing Ir­ish for­eign pol­icy over the last few decades for set­ting its trans-At­lantic on the United States at the ex­pense of cul­ti­vat­ing stronger con­nec­tions with Canada

Mr. Loy­ola was then pre­sented with a piece of Kil­lar­ney glass by the Cathaoir­leach while his wife Mau­reen re­ceived flow­ers on be­half of Wick­low County Coun­cil.

Lynn Lof­tus and Cllr. Tom For­tune, Chair­man of Wick­low County Tourism, make a pre­sen­ta­tion to Cana­dian Am­bas­sador Loy­ola Hearn and his wife Mau­reen Hearn dur­ing their visit to Wick­low Gaol.

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