The town of Essert in France is set to officially rename a street Rue de Ballinamuck in homage to their connection.
Since 1997, the two towns have celebrated their twinning, with regular visits and exchange programmes between the areas. This year is no different, with 19 youths and two leaders headed for Essert this coming Saturday.
They will later be joined by five members from the twinning group, who will attend the re-naming of the French street on July 27.
Speaking about the twinning, Tess Murphy, a member of the Ballinamuck Enterprise group, said, “It’s a lot of benefit to Longford and Ballinamuck generally”.
Referring to the publicity that the project has received, she pointed out that it may have been perceived as a” council junket”. Dismissing that notion as ‘frustrating’, Ms Murphy pointed to the project’s many benefits.
“This is a long-standing thing and we can see the benefits to the kids themselves and to the area,” she said, going on to state, “Everything that helps to raise [our] profile and helps Ballinamuck and Longford has to be a good thing.”
Acknowledging the continued support from Longford County Council, Ms Murphy also made the point that it’s important for members of the council to attend occasions such as this, particularly when Ballinamuck is being honoured by the French Local Authority.
So far the only confirmed councillor embarking on the trip, Cllr John Duffy spoke highly of the project, and agreed that it was “anything but a junket”.
“It’s very important that these things are kept up and that’s the reason I’m going,” he told the Leader. He revealed that to his knowledge, a number of the young exchange participants went on to study French at third level, with many fluent speakers now in the area.
“Its success has been proven over the years.
“I know that the committee in Essert are also very positive about it.”
“It’s an unusual one that Ballinamuck is going to be on the map in France as well,” he laughed.