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 John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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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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