What: Next year, Pittsfield and the Irish city of Ballina will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Sister Cities relationship. In 2023 Ballina will also celebrate 300 years since its formal establishment. This week, a delegation from Ballina came to Pittsfield to check in on their partner. They joined for a reception.
COVID-19 postponed some Sister Cities events. Mark Duffy, mayor of the Ballina Municipal District, said he looked forward to reigniting the relationship. Duffy extended an invitation to his city’s Pittsfield partners to attend Ballina’s 300th anniversary celebration, which will happen throughout the year.
Where: Pittsfield’s City Hall Council Chambers. Ballina is about 145 miles northwest of Dublin.
Who: Duffy, mayor of the Ballina Municipal District; Declan Turbull, head of the Ballina District; Peter Marchetti, the Pittsfield City Council president; Irish Sister City Committee President Robert Dwyer; and members of the Sister Cities Commission and Irish Sister City Committee.
Why: Sheila Barry Marinaro, an attendee whose mother was Irish, fondly recalls a trip she took to Ballina in 2016. “It was a beautiful trip, the people made me feel so comfortable,” she said.
Duffy, the Ballina mayor, highlighted the strength of the relationship, evidenced by cultural exchanges, Ballina’s youth basketball players visit and the choir Moy Singers performing at Tanglewood.
Duffy said Pittsfield and Ballina are comparable cities. “We are towns of similar sizes, opportunities and challenges,” said Duffy. “Ballina is now focusing on revitalizing the town center, fostering biking, making the city more walkable and attracting families.”
Duffy urged community leaders to contact their Ballina counterparts and seek ways to collaborate.
Anne Gagnon is a member of the Sister Cities committee who was involved with finding a city to partner with in 1994. She remembers receiving a letter from the city of Ballina and realizing what a great fit would be. Gagnon said she is excited to continue working to deepen the cultural exchange.