They also got an impression about the importance of manufacturing industry for Straubing- a visit to one of the huge BMW plants nearby was a special experience for many of Tuam’s students. Furthermore, the Irish visitors also got a first-hand impression of the Bavarian School-system during their stays at a host school.
And they, too, experienced the hospitality of Straubing and Bavaria.
In addition to the student exchange activities a number of cultural exchange events accompanied this twinning partnership over these 25 years; I may illustrate this by giving a few examples:
Visits by the Anton-Bruckner-School Choir and Orchestra (their performances of Carmina Burana in Tuam and Galway received wide acclaim), by the Anton-Bruckner- Big Band with their jazz performances, by the Agnes-Bernauer-Ensemble and their performances of classical European and Bavarian Music, etc.
The cultural visits from Tuam to Straubing included the Tuam Brass and Reed Band, the Local Irish music group Maigh Seola and their performance of traditional Irish songs, the younger group RiRa and their modern interpretation of ancient Irish songs and melodies. (By the way one of our musicians here today from Tuam, Rory Donnellan, is a member of RiRa; he has already performed with RiRa in Straubing’s Herzogsschloss in 1996)
Tuam also has a long tradition of (amateur) theatre. Players of the Tuam Theatre Group have presented, (with the help of some of Straubing’s English teachers) a play by Tuam born and currently most popular Irish playwright, Tom Murphy.
An example of Comparative History was the Key Note Lecture in Straubing’s Gaeubodenmuseum by Prof. Peter Harbison on the subject of “The Romanesque Period in Ireland and Bavaria” for Straubing’s 1100 Year Celebrations in 1997.
The last examples and most important ones of our growing partnership activities, however, are the many relations ships which have developed between the people of Straubing and Tuam.
I think that those friendships, above all, show our twinning partnership also as a “mirror of the greater European friendship”.
What a difference to this very day 100 years ago when my Grandfather and his generation fought soldiers from Tuam in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme- sometimes literally bayonet to bayonet, in hand to hand combat!
Ladies and gentlemen, I think the above examples of our twinning activities show that a good basis has been built up for the future.
We, (the Twinning Committee) have started with a change of guard recently.
Our new Chairwoman, Emily Reynolds, has been to Straubing herself on one of these student exchange visits. She also was, if memory serves me right, for a year as a guest student with the Ursuline Boarding School in Straubing.
Emily is here with us and she will introduce herself later.