KILCULLEN Twinning Group has sought a formalised twinning with the French town of Saint-Contest, with a presentation delivered to councillors at the December meeting of Naas Municipal District by Nessa Dunlea and Noel Clare.
Councillors heard that the request originated from the French commune in Normandy, and that members of the group travelled to Saint-Contest, at their own expense, to visit the town and explore the possibilities of developing a connection with Kilcullen, meeting with the mayor and other individuals across a two-day period.
Shared features include a strong equine connection in the area – the Aga Khan has a presence in Deauville (about 50 minutes from Saint-Contest) as well as Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen – and a tradition of music that includes pipe bands in both regions.
It is hoped that strong connections will be forged on a variety of levels, including through schools, with an opportunity to build links and improve language skills through Skype, FaceTime and email and the potential to arrange student visits and exchanges between Ireland and France.
“I feel that it’s something that would be good for our town,” Ms Dunlea told councillors at the meeting.
Mr Clare explained that Saint-Contest is planning a return visit to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day on 17 March next, adding that the twinning proposal could be a great project as part of Kilcullen 700 – an initiative taking place next year to mark 700 years since the first bridge across the River Liffey was built at Kilcullen.
“We have a number of things planned for next year,” he said.
The group is seeking support from Kildare Co Council, including financial backing, noting their appreciation for some €4,000 in funding granted so far.
“We look forward to further support and guidance,” said Mr Clare, adding that the group is excited about what’s to come and hopes that councillors will support them in their endeavours.
The next step will come in January, when members of Naas Municipal District will be asked to put forward an elected representative to sit on the twinning committee.
Cllr Robert Power described the twinning proposal as a wonderful way for Kilcullen to commemorate its 700th anniversary. “Well done on the work that you’ve done off your own bat,” he said.