Westchester and County Mayo, Ireland Sign “Twinning” Agreement

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The Saint Patrick’s Day season was especially significant this year. Once again officials of Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland were here to participate in the festivities organized by the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee.

Peekskill and Castlebar have had a special “sister city” or “twinning” relationship since 2000 and representatives have made many official visits at the invitation of the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. In 2006, as Mayor, I was honored to travel to Castlebar as the only city official to do so. While there I was able to meet with distinguished Castlebar resident Enda Kenny, who is now the “Taoiseach” or Prime Minister of Ireland. It was a terrific experience, which you can read about, and view photos from the visit here: http://www.johngtesta.com/castlebar.html

What makes this year especially meaningful is that a new “twinning” relationship is being created between the County of Westchester and County Mayo in Ireland. I felt that since the city twinning has been such a success we should explore such a relationship between counties. It was an idea wholeheartedly endorsed by the County Mayo representatives and also by County Executive Rob Astorino.

Mayo_Twinning_8After the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Day Parade, County Executive Astorino, County Mayo Officials and I gathered at the Peekskill Elks Lodge to sign the agreement. Also on hand were members of the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Elks officials, representatives of the 69th Infantry Regiment, Former City Manager Patrick Garvey and others to witness the historic event.

The agreement, called a Joint Declaration of Intended Programs, was signed by County OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExecutive Astorino, Mayo County Councilor Michael Kilcoyne (the former Mayor of Castlebar), and myself as Westchester County Legislator.

“Westchester and Mayo have a lot in common,” said Astorino. “It makes sense to exchange ideas to solve our shared challenges and to promote each other’s successes.”

Astorino and his wife Sheila were married in 2001 at Kinnitty Castle in County Offaly, where Sheila’s ancestors hail. According to the U.S. Census, 125,000 Westchester residents claim Irish ancestry, the second largest ancestry reported after Italian.

At no cost to taxpayers, the agreement establishes a shared commitment to develop common initiatives and projects aimed at promoting comparable interests in the fields of culture, art, tourism, ecology, youth, trade and commerce.

Mayo is a county in the west region of Ireland.  It covers an area of about 2,100 square miles and has a population of approximately 130,000.

Along with Mayo County Councilor Kilcoyne the Mayo delegation included Ger Deere, Castlebar Town Councilor, Acting Mayor and Secretary to Prime Minister Kenny, Seamus Granahan, County Mayor Regional Manager and Marie Crowley, Castlebar Town Clerk.

About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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1 Response to Westchester and County Mayo, Ireland Sign “Twinning” Agreement

  1. kjw616 says:

    I stumbled upon this blog as well as the youtube video about the Twinning Ceremony. I was a resident of Westchester County from 1980-1988 and my husband lived there as a child. We recently returned from a trip to London, where my ancestor, Louis Brennan, the Irish inventor from Castlebar was recently posthumously honored. The ceremony was presided over by the Irish Prime Minister and attended by both local Castlebar residents and dignitaries from England, Ireland, and Australia. Discovering this connection to Westchester and Mayo counties is quite exciting for me!

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