22 March 2006

Mayor forges links in USA

Daily Ireland

Eamonn Houston

The Sinn Féin mayor of Kerry has used a visit to the United States to forge educational and cultural links between the county and Western Massachusetts.
Toireasa Ferris, who at the age of 26 is Kerry’s youngest ever mayor, arrives home today after visits to Elms College, Springfield City Hall and the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds.
“There’s a whole wealth of possibilities that we’ll be following up on when we get home,” she said.
“I’d say this was very productive for all of us.”
Ms Ferris marched in the Holyoke St Patrick’s parade and met with residents who were born in Ireland and descendants of those who immigrated from Co Kerry.
She laid groundwork for an educational exchange between Elms College and the Institute of Technology in Tralee and the University of Limerick.
A student exchange programme could see knowledge shared on nursing and arts programs and there may also be a faculty exchange.
“It would be a fantastic opportunity for the people in Kerry to have the chance to study here in Springfield,” Ms Ferris said.
President James H Mullen Junior at Elms College, said his school would welcome close ties with Ireland. “There’s no more natural connection than what we have with Ireland,” he said.
Elms college is home to the Irish Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts.
Ms Ferris was joined on her American visit by John D Flynn, director of corporate services in Co Kerry, and Micheal de Mordha, manager of the Great Blasket Centre in Dunquin.

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