Walsh plans ten-day visit to Ireland in September
By Bill Forry, Editor, special to the BIR, July 21, 2014
Confirming plans reported on last spring, Mayor Martin Walsh says he will make a ten-day visit to his parents' homeland in September – his first visit to Ireland since his electoral victory last November made him the city's first Irish-American mayor in two decades. Walsh’s visit will have a heavy Galway accent, including a side trip to Connemara to see cousins, with stops in Donegal, Derry, Belfast, and Dublin also on the schedule. He is tentatively scheduled to leave Boston on Sept. 19.
“The overall goal of this trip is to support Boston's economic development through building relationships and strengthening our commercial and cultural link with Ireland,” said Kate Norton, a spokesperson for the mayor.
The visit will certainly come with ceremonial trappings, including meetings with local officials. But Walsh will also schedule "down-time" for private visits with relatives at both the beginning and end of his trip. The journey was initially planned for the spring, but Walsh decided to wait until he was settled into office for a longer period of time.
His mother Mary and his late father John are natives of Connemara, although they didn’t meet until both were living in Boston and ran into each other at a local dance hall. Mary Walsh was born in the village of Rosmuc, and her son has a sign in his office with the words “Rosmuc” on it, a nod to his family’s heritage. His father John, who passed away in 2010, was from Carna.
From Tues., Sept. 23, through Fri., Sept. 26, the mayor will visit Donegal, Derry, Belfast, and Dublin and meet with local elected officials and business leaders in each location. On Sept. 26, he will head back to Galway and spend the weekend with family, then to return to Boston on Mon., Sept. 29.
Walsh’s campaign and election were closely tracked in Ireland, often making the front page of newspapers, and the inauguration in January attracted elected officials and residents of Galway, including County Mayor Liam Carroll and City Mayor Padraig Conneely.
After he was elected, Walsh talked to a Boston Globe correspondent in Ireland about his acquaintance with the Connemara region on the fringes of Galway.
“Oh, I’ve been over there at least a dozen times,” he said. “Every summer I’d go over as a kid to my grandparents’ house in Rosmuc, where my mother is from. I loved it there: planting cabbage or sowing potatoes in the fields, feeding the chickens or fishing on the pier.”
The mayor’s visit to Belfast will be the first since he agreed to a "sister city" arrangement with that city’s Belfast’s former mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir. The two leaders agreed to the sibling-arrangement during O Muilleoir's visit to Boston last March.