Sister City Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland
A delegation from Pittsfield, led by Mayor Daniel Bianchi and his wife Theresa visited Pittsfield’s Sister City Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland during the North Mayo Gathering Festival held from August 1st to August 9th. Ballina Mayor Johnnie O’Malley and the Ballina Town Council honored Mayor Bianchi and the Pittsfield visitors with a civic reception. A framed print by Marguerite Bride of “Park Square at Christmas” was presented by mayor Bianchi and Theresa in addition to a Pittsfield Flag, framed parade committee print and a 15 year anniversary certificate from Sister Cities International. Pittsfield delegates attended many of the 100 events including The Moffatt School of Dance who visited Pittsfield in 2012, the traditional music song and dance trade show, fly fishing instruction, mock Irish wake, the Manchester-Mayo-Pittsfield Golf tournament, and the Mayo Agricultural Show.
Mayor Bianchi was hosted by Ballina Mayor O’Malley to a tour of the Ballina area and by Councilor Mary Kelly to the Ballina Beverages Plant (Coca-Cola) where preliminary plans for a teleconference on economic development were discussed.
One of the highlights of the visit was a gala banquet with a former President of Ireland and Ballina native Mary Robinson. Pittsfield was honored with a private audience with Mary Robinson and her husband where an official picture was taken of the 8 attendees.
The festival was part of a nation-wide tourism and economic development initiative designed to boost Irelands economy by inviting “Home” those of Irish decent to reconnect with their roots. The Mayor is considering the potential for such an event, or invitation for the many Pittsfield and Berkshire County natives to also come rediscover their roots.