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Alex Zarodov

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A Tale of Two Cities: Galway to celebrate 40th anniversary of Lorient Twinning - 18th, 19th & 20th September 2015

Sep 9, 2015

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the twinning of Galway City with Lorient in France, an occasion that will be marked by the visit to Galway of guest of honour President Michael D. Higgins, along with a delegation from Lorient over the weekend of the 18th, 19th and 20 th of September.

The French Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault will also be in attendance along with the Honorary French Consul in Galway, Madame Catherine Gagneux.

The Lorient delegation will be led by Mayor Norbert Métairie and will include city officials, poets, musicians and cultural activists to launch a weekend of celebratory events to mark the four decades since Galway's twinning with Lorient in 1975. Located in Brittany in north-western France, the Lorient-Galway twinning is the longest of the sister city relationships which Galway has and there has always been a special relationship between both cities.

Over these three days, the two cities and regions will combine and share their Celtic origins via a photographic exhibition of 40 years of shared memories, an exhibition of artworks from Galway artists who previously exhibited in Lorient, poetry readings and exchanges in English, Irish, French and Breton, a Fest Noz concert in the Black Box Theatre (a"night festival" with dancing in groups and live traditional music from Irish and Breton groups), a small Breton foodmarket and many other inter-cultural events. Twinning involves a long-term commitment that goes beyond changes in local political or administrative life - it also requires redefining actions and objectives to ensure the sustainability of links between these two cities and enable them to remain dynamic and enthusiastic. The 40th anniversary festivities will celebrate the abundant links that exist between Galway and Lorient.

The core values of twinning are friendship, cooperation and understanding between peoples in Europe and so the strong ties that exist between Galway and Lorient will be remembered and reinforced over the anniversary weekend. The two cities choose to give centrality to the arts and to culture, with both municipalities now internationally renowned for their respective summer festivals, so it is fitting that their 40th anniversary weekend coincides with Culture Night in Galway on Friday September 18th. The twinning tale of these two cities has allowed many exchanges and cooperation over four decades in various fields such as art and culture, youth culture, the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, sustainable local economic development, social inclusion and sport.

Celebrating the 40 th birthday of one of the oldest twinnings between an Irish and a French city provides an opportunity for Galway and Lorient to demonstrate once again the positive influences for both of the coastal cities, vividly illustrating their four decades of friendship. Representatives of various cultural organisations in Lorient will be travelling to Galway to discuss ways in which the relationship between the two cities can be further strengthened in areas like sport, music, culture, and education, helping to create opportunities for an interchange of ideas and fostering a better appreciation of our respective cultures. According to President Higgins "the inhabitants of Galway and Lorient have been able to draw on the commonalities they discern in their respective pasts to build a warm community of twinning, rich with friendships and mutual curiosity."