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.
After 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 Executive 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.