Galway was bursting with pride this week as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh received a hero’s welcome during a visit to his ancestral home, which not only further strengthened cultural and economic ties between the two cities but also revealed many new found cousins.
“This weekend has been incredible - I have reconnected and have lot more cousins now,” quipped Mayor Walsh as he addressed a special meeting of the Galway County Council at NUI Galway on Monday morning.
The Dorchestor man whose parents, the late John Walsh, a native of Callowfeenish in Carna, and mother Mary - formerly Mary O’Malley - from Ros Cide in Rosmuc, began the visit to his ancestral home on Friday morning when he landed at Shannon Airport. Although much time has been spent meeting with business representatives, including those from US multinationals, Mayor Walsh also reconnected with friends and family in Connemara.
Speaking of the welcome he received, Mayor Walsh told those gathered at the Aula Maxima: “Coming back here as mayor and seeing the pride on peoples’ faces has been an incredible feeling. I share the connections between Galwegians and Bostonians.” He spoke of how both Galway and Boston can create more opportunities for economic growth, in business and in tourism, as well as learn from each other to progress access to third level education and promote culture, heritage, and a better quality of life.
“I’m optimistic that both cities can grow together,” said Mayor Walsh, who was accompanied by his mother Mary Walsh, girlfriend Lorrie Higgins, uncle Peter O’Malley, Eugene O’Flaherty, corporation counsel of the city of Boston and former state representative, state representative Mary O’Keefe who has family connections in Spiddal, and Sergeant Detective Winnie Cotter.
Extending a sincere and warm céad míle fáilte, Galway county mayor Mary Hoade said: “We are honoured your mother Mary travelled with you on this trip - her pride in your achievements is the pride that all Galwegians share. It’s of particularly pride to the people of Carna and Rosmuc. Your schedule reflects the ties you enjoy, your relationship with your ancestral home”. Mayor Hoade also acknowledged the support Mayor Walsh has given for road infrastructure and bus services as well as the Emigrants Commemorative Centre in Carna.
After signing the Distinguished Visitors Book, Mayor Walsh was presented with a scale model of a Galway hooker made by Jim Horgan from Furbo, as well as Connemara wool felt art by Sandra O’Connor. He then emerged into the sunny Quadrangle to meet with a group of students from Boston College before being met by NUI Galway president Dr Jim Browne and whisked away to a meeting attended by NUI Galway research leaders, colleagues from IDA Ireland as well as high-level representatives from IDA and EI client companies with strong Boston-Galway connections. The meeting focused on opportunities for further colaboration between Boston and Galway in the context of the global knowledge-based economy, specifically on the development of research and innovation links between the university and organisations in the Boston area.
Later that afternoon, Mayor Walsh paid a courtesy call on city mayor Donal Lyons in City Hall. Of the visit, Cllr Lyons said: “On behalf of the citizens of Galway. We want to welcome him to Galway city and say how proud we are of his achievement in becoming Mayor of Boston”.
After days of preparation and anticipation celebrations at Screebe House Hotel in Connemara got underway later on Monday evening. With Mayor Walsh as guest of honour hundreds of people gathered for the homecoming. This has been Mayor Walsh’s first official visit home since being elected last November and sworn in on January 6. It was also a visit with a difference, creating fond memories which Mayor Walsh vowed to cherish.
On Tuesday, Mayor Walsh laid the foundation stone for the Emigrants Commemorative Centre. The trip also included stops in Dublin, Donegal and Derry. Mayor Walsh is also due to deliver a speech at the Belfast Homecoming - One City Conference today, as well as make an appearance on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show. It is expected that he will spend some time with relatives in Galway again before making the return journey to Boston on Monday.