Friday, April 28, 2017

Holyoke Mayor Established Sister City Relationship with Tralee, Ireland

Mayor Alex B. Morse is in Ireland this week and met with the Mayor of Tralee in the southwest of Ireland on Tuesday April 25th in regards to establishing a sister city relationship. Mayor Morse met with Mayor Terry O’Brien at 1:00 pm today at the Rose Hotel in Tralee for lunch and a discussion, followed by a tour of the city.

During the meeting, Mayor Morse gifted Mayor O’Brien with a few items notable to Holyoke. Mayor Morse gave Mayor O’Brien a Holyoke St. Patrick’s Tartan Tie that he purchased at Highlands Card & Gift Shop on Hampden Street in Holyoke. The tartan was designed in 2002 by Gerald D Healy (2002 President) & Ralf L Hartwell Jr. for the Holyoke St Patrick's Committee. Colors chosen: red, white & blue from the US flag; green white and gold from the Irish flag and the Parade Committee; green & white from the Holyoke Community College; purple & white from the Holyoke High School; green and gold from the Holyoke Catholic High School and black & gold from the Dean Vocational High School.

Mayor Morse also presented Mayor O’Brien with two gifts purchased at The Cottage on Northampton Street in Holyoke. First, a custom designed photograph of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a shamrock placed over the City of Holyoke, as well as a beer glass enshrined with Holyoke and a shamrock. Mayor Morse also brought a proclamation for the two mayors to sign to formalize the intent to become sister cities. 

Additionally, Mayor Morse met with the Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Tralee and the Kerry County Tourism Officer.

Tralee is the county town of County Kerry in the south-west of Ireland. The town is on the northern side of the neck of the Dingle Peninsula, and is the largest town in County Kerry. The town's population including suburbs is 23,693, making it the 7th largest town, and 13th largest urban settlement in Ireland.

The City of Holyoke draws similarities to the City of Tralee. One resemblance is its canal system. The Tralee Ship Canal was built in 1846 to allow larger ships to enter into the City and is two miles long. After a restoration project, the canal was redeveloped with apartments blocks and the towpath which is strikingly similar to the Canal Galleries and the CanalWalk in Holyoke.

By the early 1900s, in both Holyoke and Tralee, the streets were booming with people in the downtown area. “The Mall”, as it is called in Tralee, was filled with residents up and down the street and storefronts filled with customers everyday. It is remarkably identical to the times of the Paper City when mill workers filled the streets and sidewalks of Downtown Holyoke.

Other similarities between Holyoke and Tralee include the cities’ parks, theaters, museums, and its surrounding forest areas and natural resources.

While visiting Tralee, Mayor Morse discussed twinning arrangements with Mayor of Tralee, Councilor Terry O’Brien and former Mayor of Tralee, Councilor Jim Finucane, who was involved in setting up a twinning arrangement with Springfield with former Mayor and current U.S. Representative Richard Neal in the 1990s.

“I see this as a great opportunity for our City,” says Mayor Alex Morse, “Not only because of our well-known link to Ireland and Irish Heritage but also as a chance to meet with the Mayor of a city whose structure and communities are similar to our own. I look forward to establishing this sister city relationship and hearing new approaches and perspectives from the Mayor of Tralee.”

While in Ireland, Mayor Morse plans to visit Killarney, Dingle, Cork, and other cities and towns, and will also travel to Dublin and be given a tour of the Leinster House, or the Irish Parliament.

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