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Town Twinning History
Ballybay and Gergweis
The idea of officially twinning Ballybay and Gergweis happened on the occasion of the 1997 All-Ireland Hurling Final. Karl Heinz Hierzegger, a frequent visitor to Ballybay was on holidays at that time and attended the Hurling Final with Martin McAviney and Joe O’Connell. Karl Heinz was introduced to Ballybay by his good friend Werner Hanauer (R.I.P) who had been a regular visitor to Ballybay for fifteen years. During this time a strong friendship developed between many people from Ballybay and Gergweis, resulting in many exchange visits by both sides to enjoy music, fishing and the “craic”. We are indebted to many Ballybay people who gave a real “Céad Míle Fàilte” to our visitors, thereby laying the foundations for a friendship that has grown every year.
During a conversation on the system of local government, it emerged that Karl Heinz was a member of his local authority in Osterhofen. Martin McAviney and Karl Heinz agreed that they would both explore the possibility of officially twinning with their respective local authorities under the European Commission’s scheme for Town Twinning. It was felt that the strong bond of friendship that exists between the communities is such that an official Town Twinning would be of great benefit. In January 1998, Ballybay Town Commissioners received a letter from the Burgermeister of Stadt Osterhofen, Horst Eckl requesting a Town Twinning between Ballybay and Gergweis.
Gergweis is a small village in SE Bavaria of 600 inhabitants and is part of the town of Osterhofen. In his letter, Horst Eckl outlined that his friendship, already established was based on personal contacts that people from Ballybay and surrounding areas had made during their visits to the Annual Festivals in Gergweis and also to the Annual Irish Bayrisch night in November. Mr. Eckl also pointed out that over the last fifteen years many people from Gergweis had visited Ballybay. At the January 1998 meeting of Ballybay Town Commissioners the then Chairman, Martin McAviney and Pat O’Brien T.C. outlined for the members of the Commission, the recent history of contacts between Gergweis and Ballybay, the initial contact dating back 15 years. The Co. Manager, Mr. Joe Gavin supported the idea of twinning arrangement stating that the relationship already based on such a strong footing was a great advantage. Mr. Gavin then instructed the Town Clerk to reply to Mr. Eckl’s letter confirming that Ballybay Town Commissioners would encourage and support a twinning arrangement.
In October ’98 an invitation was received from Burgermeister, Horst Eckl to visit Gergweis and Osterhofen, on the occasion of their Annual Irish Bayrisch night in November. As part of the process to a successful town twinning as laid down by I.P.A (Institute of Public Administration), we undertook to make this our exploratory visit. This visit was sanctioned by Monaghan County Council. The travelling party included Chairman, Phillip Smith, Comm. Pat O’Brien, Comm. Martin McAviney, Town Clerk, Rosemary McManus, Sen. Francis O’Brien M.C.C and Olivia Keenan M.C.C. A very successful four day visit took place, the highlights being the official reception in Osterhofen and our visit to the Irish Bayrisch night where Co. Monaghans Regina McMullen and the traditional Irish Group, “Old Cross and Square” joined local musicians for a wonderful night of music and “dancing”.
An invitation was extended to our hosts to visit Ballybay in 1999. At our February meeting we were informed that a delegation from Osterhofen/Gergweis would visit Ballybay on the 22nd April ’99. After this visit, if both authorities are in agreement to twin, plans can then be made for the twinning ceremonies etc to take place. Finally, a strong bond of friendship already exists between Ballybay and Gergweis. The twinning should strengthen this bond on a greater level and will enable us to play our part in laying the foundations of an ever closer union among the people of Europe.
Courtesy of “Past and Present” Ballybay Town Commissioners Centenary Publication