Castlecomer - Penvénan Twinning Committee
Our year began with the arrival of eight visitors from Penvénan for the 2008 Wellie Race. They were Marie and Yvon Lirzin, Claudie and Thierry Broudic, Yolande and Michel Gaubert and Nicole and Pascal Devoldere. Both Committees led the parade before the start of the race. The visitors were delighted to be invited by the Wellie Race committee to be part of the dignitaries on the reviewing platform. All participated in the race as did a number of our Committee. Yvon came 3rd in the serious running! The rest of us were happy to finish and enjoyed a few hot whiskies afterwards. Mike and Karen Lowther hosted a meal for both Committees and friends after the race. It was a very enjoyable weekend for all and our visitors thoroughly enjoyed the race and the hospitality of the Wellie Race Committee. They are well known to Chubby who entertained them in Dillons on previous visits.
During the year both Committees were devastated by the loss of very good friends and key members.
In July we saw the passing of one of our founder members, Ger Heffernan. He was a relatively young man who courageously battled against terminal illness for a number of years until his death in Castlecomer District Hospital in July. He bore his illness with dignity and never once complained. Ger was the instigator of the Twinning process. In 1998 he called a public meeting to see if there was any interest in Twinning with a small coastal town in Northern Brittany. As a result of that meeting he led the first delegation to Penvénan in May 1999. The group were amased by the beauty of the area and the friendliness of the people. Penvénan sent a delegation to Castlecomer the following September. They enjoyed their stay in Castlecomer and it was agreed to commence the Twinning process. Ger along with dignitaries from Kilkenny Co. Council and members of the local committee travelled to Penvénan in May 2000 to sign the Twinning Charter. He signed the Charter in Castlecomer in May 2001. Ger was always welcome in Penvénan and represented Castlecomer there on St. Patrick's Day in 2003. From his first visit he made a great impression and was very highly thought of by all who met him in Penvénan. When visitors arrived in Castlecomer from Penvénan they always enquired for Ger and arranged to meet him. A message of sympathy from The Penvénan Twinning Committee was read at his funeral Mass. His enthusiasm, gentleness and smile are sadly missed by the members of our Committee and the wider community in Castlecomer whom he served so well over many years. May he Rest in Peace.
In August Penvénan also saw the passing of one of its prominent members, Agnes Mathé. She was tragically killed in a traffic accident in Penvénan. Agnes was a live-wire member of the Penvénan Committee, and as Deputy Mayor represented M. Fernand Le Duc during the visit of the Penvénan group to Castlecomer and Kilkenny in April 2006. Her husband Jacques accompanied her on the trip. She was easily recognisable by her bright red hair and made an impression on all who met her during her visit to the Schools in Castlecomer. Agnes was very proud to represent Penvénan at a civic reception hosted by our local Chairman of Kilkenny Co. Council, Cllr. Maurice Shortall. She spoke eloquently about Penvénan and its relationship with Castlecomer. She was delighted with the reception their group received in the Schools in Castlecomer and in Kilkenny Co. Council. Her husband Jacques, four sons, friends and the Committees in Penvénan and Castlecomer were devastated by her sudden death. Ivan Powell and Mike Lowther represented the Castlecomer Committee at the memorial service in Penvénan. She will also be sadly missed by all her friends in Castlecomer and Penvénan. Both committees were appreciative of the support they received from each other during their sad times. We continue to forge links between the two communities and in November Margaret Maxwell from The Presentation Convent N.S. travelled to Penvénan to visit a Primary school in Penvénan. Both schools have been communicating by e-mail and letter since 2006. It is fantastic for the teachers involved to get together. The teachers in Penvénan are invited to Castlecomer in 2009
We wish the best of luck and continued success to the Wellie Race Committee. They have continuously embraced the Twinning spirit and engaged with our Penvénan visitors. Groups from Penvénan have participated in and enjoyed the Wellie race on four occasions. We would be delighted if the Wellie Race Committee would travel to Penvénan. If they decide to do so we would be delighted to assist them. Due to Global Warming wellies are also needed Penvénan.