Recent representation to the Charter of European Rural Communities has seen delegates from Cashel travel to the Netherlands and Hungary. Ireland’s participation of the Charter of European Rural Communities is run through the tutelage of Cashel Town Council. Ms. Lisa Anglim and Mr. Alexander Fallon celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Esch, which represents the Netherlands to the European Charter. The Youth Meeting they attended saw two youth delegates (18 to 27 years of age) from each of the 27 EU countries attend from 16th to 18th March.
It was the first opportunity for many of them to renew friendships that started at Cashel’s hosting of the Charter’s Main Meeting in July 2011. The delegates took part in a myriad of cultural and social activities, including Farmer’s Golf, a reception in the town hall of nearby Haaren and visits to the cities of Den Bosch and Boxtel. All youth delegates took part in a series of workshops on connectivity to their towns in terms of public transport, culture and other facilities. They had the opportunity to meet a local Member of the European Parliament, Lambert Van Nistelrooy, and discuss the workshop theme with him through a series of questions and answers.
Five delegates from Ireland, Hungary, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia attended the Charter Small Meeting in Nagycenk, Hungary from the 22nd to the 25th of March. Ireland’s delegates were Sr. Mary Walsh (Spafield Family Resource Centre), Ms. Claire Turner (Social and Community Studies, LIT Tipperary), Ms. Hilery Tarrant and Mr. Shane O’Dwyer (South Tipperary Volunteer Centre) and Dr. Niall Gregory (Charter Communications Officer). Similar to the Youth Meeting, the delegates had the opportunity to engage with their host families and other delegates through a series of social and cultural activities and learn of each others cultures and daily lives. Part of the programme allowed Cashel to display the foods of Tipperary, in which J. D. Spearman of Spearman’s Bakery, Martinand Marian O’Dwyer of O’Dwyer’s Butchers and the Grubb Family (Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue Cheese) kindly donated their produce to the occasion. Cultural activities arranged by the Hungarian hosts were visits to Nagycenk’s Szechenyi Castle (where the workshops took place), the city of Sopron, Eszterhazy Castle (Hungary’s Versailles) and a preserved section of the Iron Curtain on the Austrian – Hungarian Border. It was here that the Iron Curtain first fell in 1989 – a predecessor to the fall of the Berlin Wall the following year. The Irish delegates found this a very poignant experience and a reminder of how the European Charter serves to unit all people of Europe, regardless of differing cultures, ethnic backgrounds and national borders.
Sr. Mary Walsh gave a presentation on the invaluable work of Spafield Family Resource Centre. 2012 is the European Year of Active Aging and Solidarity between Generations. To celebrate this, the workshop theme was on Aging and Decrease of the Population and the Effects for Liveability in the Towns. Hilery In recent years Cashel has been amongst 15 towns throughout the country to host a Positive Aging Week each August. This has developed to South Tipperary becoming an Age Friendly County, which is headed by Ms. Ann Ryan (Community and Enterprise Officer, South Tipperary County Council) in tandem with county-wide community and voluntary organisations. Cashel Delegates were delighted to present the work of this programme to a European audience and seek to engage with similar programmes in Europe. South Tipperary Age Friendly County programme will see the launch of sculpture at the Green in Cashel on the 4th of May to celebrate its new status. The sculpture is being led by Philip Quinn of Stonemad at Holycross which further stone panels created by individual members of the local community.