Galway and the Scottish city of Stirling are on the verge of signing an agreement that is hoped will boost cultural ties between the cities and provide a boost for the arts, tourism, and the local economies.
It is understood that on March 16, the cities will sign the agreement - the first time a formal relationship has existed between Galway and a Scottish city. The genesis of the agreement lies with The Crane Bar’s Mick Crehan, the provost (mayor ) of Stirling Fergus Wood, and Labour councillor Billy Cameron.
Mr Crehan and Mr Wood developed the Galway-Stirling Sessions, an annual celebration of traditional music in Galway, followed by a similar festival in Stirling, with musicians from both cities attending both festivals.
The success of the venture over the past couple of years has led to strengthening bonds between the cities on a variety of levels, and in June 2011 Cllr Cameron proposed a formal agreement be signed between Galway and Stirling.
A delegation from Stirling will arrive in Galway on March 15 consisting of Provost Wood; deputy leader of Stirling Council Cllr Scott Farmer; leader of the opposition Cllr Corrie McCourt; Bob Jack, CEO of Stirling Council; council officer Michael Lyon; and deputy principal of Forth Valley College, Ken Thompson.
The delegation may visit the Claddagh National School and Coláiste Iognáid with the hopes of forging a link with a primary and secondary school in Stirling, while Mr Thompson will visit the GMIT. The delegation will also be guest of Mayor Hildegarde Naughton at the St Patrick’s Day Parade.
There is also a possibility that some Scottish pipers will accompany the delegation and play in the St Patrick’s Day Parade.
“It is appropriate and correct to form this relationship,” said Cllr Cameron. “As a people we are inextricably linked with a shared heritage and culture, our native languages and music share huge similarities. The initiative will encourage tourism between the cities, the exchange of ideas in cultural heritage, social, recreational, educational, sporting and other activities between both communities.”