Auch die 5. Irlandreise war ein voller Erfolg! Johanna und Bernhard Blum haben die wieder Teilnehmer ihrer Gruppe für die Grüne Insel begeistern können.
Beim Kulturabend im Lough Lannagh Holiday Village konnten die Franken in geselliger Runde mit Freunden aus der irischen Partnerstadt Castlebar ins Gespräch kommen. Eine große Ehre war der Besuch des deutschen Botschafters, der es sich beim musikalischen Teil des Abends nicht nehmen ließ ebenfalls einige Lieder vorzutragen. Sehr bewegend war auch die Zeremonie im Mayo Peace Park of Remembrance. Und bei einem Rundgang durch die Stadt konnten die Reiseteilnehmer einen guten Einblick in die Geschichte Castlebars gewinnen.
Michael Feeney und Cord Meier-Klodt singen gemeinsam.
Visitors from Höchstadt gather at Mayo Peace Park
FOR the fifth time, Johanna and Bernhard Blum have led a travel group to Ireland in the name of the Friends of Castlebar. In nine days they showed the 45 participants many sights of the Emerald Isle.
The highlight was the three-day visit to Castlebar, which has been Höchstadt’s partner community for 22 years.
Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt speaks.
The day after arriving there, the group visited Achill Island, Heinrich Böll’s island. In the afternoon, they met for a solemn ceremony at the Peace Park in Castlebar. Guests included local councillors, cathaoirleach Michael Kilcoyne, Michael Feeney, founder of the Peace Park Committee, the secretary of the committee, Kevin McNally, and as a guest of honour, the German Ambassador, Cord Meier-Klodt, who came especially from Dublin, was warmly welcomed.
“We remember all the fallen in the spirit of peace, friendship and reconciliation,” Mr. Feeney said. 1,250 names of Mayo soldiers who died in WW1 and WW2 read on the main plaque where wreaths were later laid.
“Almost exactly a year ago, we stood here with a Höchstadt group and laid wreaths,” Johanna Blum said. “None of us believed that there could ever be war in Europe again. However, for half a year it has become a cruel reality and now we also remember the fallen in the Ukraine war. We can only pray that this sorrowful war will come to an end soon.”
“Speaking at war memorials to commemorate the victims of war and violence is always a solemn occasion. This is even more true in these days when war in Europe is not just something remembered from the past. It is a sad reality that Russia is waging an unprecedented war in our immediate neighbourhood, in Ukraine,” the ambassador said.
“This makes us realise how lucky we have been and how grateful Germany, Ireland and all European partners must be that our peoples have lived in peace all these past decades,” he continued.
“Peace Park reminds us that this has not always been the case. We renew our appeal that, together with our partners in Europe and beyond, we will not let up in showing our united and firm support and solidarity to the country under attack. Now is the time to clarify Olaf Scholz’s term ‘turning point in time’ and to develop it in our relations with our partner Ireland. This is the moment to diversify our energy dependence and dramatically accelerate the development of low-carbon alternatives to oil and gas.
“So, while we pay our respects to the sacrifices of the past, I am pleased to also point to the opportunities of the future. There is no better setting for that than a trusted circle of friends like this, where representatives of one of our oldest city and community partnerships are reunited in person after the long Covid hiatus. They represent what I would call the ‘grassroots level’ and the origin of friendship between countries – interpersonal relationships.”
Before the wreath-laying ceremony, piper Pat Conlon played ‘Auld lang syne’ on his bagpipes. After a minute of remembrance, the taps sounded and both national anthems ended the solemn, deeply impressive act.
Later, all participants were invited to the Franconian evening at Lough Lannagh. The Irish guests and the ambassador also enjoyed the Franconian sausages. Children sang, danced and played music and the Franconians also belted out their Franconian ‘national anthem’.
The next evening, the group was surprised with singing and dancing by some Ukrainian children who have been staying with their mothers in the guest house since March.
Besides Castlebar, Dublin, the old monastery of Clonmacnoise, the Ring of Kerry and a visit to Dingle were on the programme.
Full of good impressions, the travel group returned home after nine days.