Ennis and Phoenix Celebrated 20th Anniversary

On the October 16, 2008 Ennis and Phoenix formally celebrated 20 years as twinned sister cities when an Ennis delegation travelled to Phoenix. Since the formation of the twinning relationship in March 1988, civic and community leaders from both sides of the Atlantic have visited each other on exchanges and have developed strong ties and personal friendships.

TJ Waters, Chairperson of Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board, said, “The twinning arrangement has presented tremendous opportunities for the residents of both Ennis and Phoenix. For example, political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, technical experts, teachers and students from each location have participated in regular exchanges.”

Commenting on the ongoing success of the twinning arrangement, Mr. Waters said, “Over 100 students have participated in exchange programmes since the Youth Ambassador Programme was established in 1992. I am pleased to see that a teacher exchange programme has recently been formalised. I hope it will become as important as the Youth Ambassador exchange and help consolidate and grow the excellent relationship that exists between Ennis and Phoenix.”

According to Councillor Tom Glynn, Deputy Mayor of Ennis, “The twinning partnership has helped bridge geographical and cultural divides and develop friendship and understanding between Ennis and Phoenix. The purpose of our visit is to build further on the business, political, community and cultural links that have formed during the last two decades.”  Councillor Glynn, an Ennis-based teacher, stated that the visit would focus on commercial and civic activities in Phoenix and surrounding areas.

He explained, “The commercial element of our visit will focus on enterprise, tourism and education. The Ennis delegation will explore opportunities for trade that will be of mutual benefit to companies in Phoenix and Ennis, and promote the town as an investment location and tourist destination. We will also examine the potential for the establishment of links with educational facilities in Phoenix.”

“On the Civic side, the delegation will endeavor to build on the achievements and successes associated with the Ennis Phoenix twinning to date”, concluded Councillor Glynn.

The delegation will include representatives of the Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board, Clare County Enterprise Board, Clare VEC and Clare Local Authorities.

During the week long visit the delegation will attend presentations by the American Society of Travel (Arizona Chapter), Arizona Bioscience Industry Association, City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department, and will meet with Bill Harris, President and CEO of the Arizona Science Foundation.

The travelling Ennis group will receive an overview and tour of the Translational Genomic Research Institute (T-GEN), which is on the cutting edge of bioscience research and development in the search for better ways to diagnose, treat and cure diseases, particularly cancer.

The group will also meet with Phoenix City Mayor Phil Gordon and council officials. Meetings are also scheduled with adult, early learning and community education groups. The delegation will conclude its visit by attending a Phoenix Ennis Sister Cities 20th Anniversary Reception and Dinner.

One of the most successful elements of the twinning relationship has been the Youth Ambassador Programme. Secondary students from Ennis colleges travel to Phoenix as Youth Ambassadors each year where they are home hosted by Phoenix families whose children have earlier been houseguests of the Ennis families. Ennis Ambassadors meet up with Ambassadors from other Sister Cities including Calgary, Canada; Catania, Italy; Chengdu, China; Grenoble, France; Hermosillo, Mexico; Himeji, Japan; Prague, Czech Republic; and Taipei, Taiwan.

The Programme has been complemented in recent months by the formal establishment of a Teacher Exchange Programme. Heather Kiser – a History teacher at Pointe Mountain High School, Phoenix – recently spent a fortnight teaching American History at Colaiste Muire in Ennis. Helen Sheil of Colaiste Muire travelled to Phoenix where she taught History in Heather’s school. It is anticipated that the programme will be expanded in the coming years.

In recent years, Phoenix groups such as the internationally acclaimed Phoenix Boys Choir and The Phoenix Children Chorus have performed in Ennis Cathedral, Glór and St Joseph’s Church as part of their European tour.