'This visit from our Irish kin folk is a tribute to the early settlers and to those that shaped the community that we know. Today we celebrate that ancestral connection.' Mr Shawn Pankow, Mayor of Smiths Falls
'Our Irish roots, the resilience and determination of the Irish of Coollattin are a fine example of the human spirit and indeed a strong thread woven into our Canadian fabric'. Mr Ken Graham, President, Smiths Falls Rotary Club
The Irish group, representative of many local voluntary groups in south County Wicklow and north County Wexford in Ireland, arrived in Smiths Falls on 23 June. Over the following nine days bonds of true friendship were formed between between two communities which in many ways have a common heritage. During the course of nine days were in their own words, 'treated like royalty'. The activities laid on for the Irish visitors were many and varied. They were the guests of the Southwinds Canoe Brigade as they received paddling coaching on the voyageur canoes which were in town as part of the Canada 150 celebration. Most enjoyable was a half day boat trip around the amazing 1,000 islands in the St. Lawrence waterway. This amazing trip was followed by a guided tour of the famed Kingston Penitentiary. It was fitting that, in the very special week in Canada's history, the visitors should be given a specially arranged tour of Parliament Hill and the Canadian houses of parliament. A trip to the amazing Jones Falls featured a magnificent outdoor lunch served alongside the canal. this trip featured guidance on dowsing for the unmarked graves of the Irish who succumbed to 'swamp fever' during the construction of the famed waterway. The group were most appreciative to our guide for the day, Tony Humphrey, for sharing this amazing gift with the visitors. The Irish were special guests of honour at a number of specially organised events. these included open air set dancing and a BBQ at the Heritage Museum, walking tours and a meal at the town's Railway Museum and a performance by the highly talented 'Steel City Rollers' in the town's theatre. During the course of the visit there were organised bus tours to towns such as Almonte, Perth and Merrickville - all towns which in many ways share a common heritage with the towns and villages of south County Wicklow. The Coollattin guests were special guests of honour at events hosted by the Catholic Women's League, Knights of Columbanus, the town's Rotary Club and town council. For many of the visiting party the most moving and poignant moment was provided by a visit to to St Francis cemetery in Smiths Falls. Here they were greeted by the uncanny resemblance between the names inscribed on the grave markers and those inscribed on headstones in any graveyard in south County Wicklow. On the Wednesday of the visit the towns of Carnew, Co Wicklow and Smiths Falls in Lanark County, Ontario were formally twinned at a special Chamber of Commerce event which was staged in Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club. The latter was a fitting venue as the golf club is built on land formerly owned by the emigre Balfe family who arrived in Smiths Falls from Carnew in Black '47. In the presence of Ireland's ambassador to Canada, his Excellency Mr Jim Kelly, the Wicklow County Council twinning parchment was signed by Mayor Pankow and Kevin Lee, chair of the twinning committee. On departure day Mayor Pankow, Ingrid Bron and the team of workers engaged in planning the events gathered with the Irish guests at a special departure banquet. There was more than a hint of sadness that a wonderful adventure was concluding. All present were agreed that lasting friendships had been made and memories fashioned that would last a lifetime.
The Irish group on arrival at Ottawa airport
rMayor Shawn is the perfect host as he serves 'the punch at the brunch'. Pictured with the mayor are Kevin Lee, Eleanor Lee and 'First Lady", Tracey
Could a claim be made for part ownership of this store in Almonte
Patricia Kenny calls her mother in Carnew, Ireland from the graveside of Thomas Balfe and his wife Sarah Kenny. Thomas, his wife and five children were assisted in emigrating to Canada in Black '47. They found their final resting place in St Thomas cemetery, Smiths Falls.
Enjoying the 'craic in the park' on Canada Day
CCC founder Kevin Lee making a presentation to Mayor Pankow at the twinning celebration
Mary Doran gives it 'socks in the park' during the Canada Day celebrations
In Almonte Kevin meets up with Ray James. Ray's ancestors left the townland of Monaghullen during the 1820's
Mayor Shawn and some of his staff join the Irish visitors in celebrating Canada Day
Saying Goodbye (or rather 'farewell for now')
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