Ennis Phoenix Twinning Board Hosts 2010 Arizona Rose

Arizona Rose at the Cliffs of Moher Danielle McBurnett, the 2010 Arizona Rose had a whirlwind tour of County Clare over the weekend before joining the 31 others in Dublin today who are competing in the 51st annual Rose of Tralee International Festival.  Coordinated by the Ennis-Phoenix Twinning Board, she shared in area events promoting programs between the two cities and more broadly between the two countries.

Danielle participated in the presentation of the Creative Writing with Disabilities award in the Town Council Civic Center.  Jessica Keegan received a plaque and letters from the Phoenix Sister City Chairperson and from the City of Phoenix’s Mayor for her autobiographical work entitled “Reflections of Life.” Deputy Mayor Michael Guilfoyle and others from the community including the City Manager, Gerard Dollard, were on hand for the ceremonies, which included gift exchanges between Ennis dignitaries and the Arizona Rose Centre.  In a moment of spontaneity, a request from the podium was made to honor the American guest with the singing of The Rose of Tralee.  Sean, a young man in the audience and a friend of Jessica’s, led in a strong, tenor voice a lovely rendition from his wheelchair.

Afterward, Danielle joined owners David and Eileen Woodford in the launch of the new range of Ballymorris Pottery at The Irish Shop.

Dinner was at The Cloister, part of the town’s original abbey built in the 11th century and now the only privately owned national monument in Ireland.  Danielle was honored with a specially concocted Arizona Rose Cocktail, a delightful blend of pink champagne, white rum, crushed ice, mint leaves, and grenadine.  The lime garnish was a fitting accompaniment since many Phoenix homes include a lime tree in the backyard. A variety of photos were taken of Danielle including one seated at the baby grand piano.  She hopes to play her original piano composition as a party piece for one of RTE’s televised Rose selection nights August 23 and 24 at 8 pm.

Councillor Mary Howard hosted Danielle in Claureen House, her family home built in 1834, during her visit to Ennis.  Saturday included a fascinating walking tour of Ennis along with a couple from Cork and two Kiwis from New Zealand; visits to owner Ronan Cahir’s Gift Venue; Tommy O’Donnell’s Sports Shop where she donned a Clare jersey; greeted vendors at the Farmer’s Market; and tasted periwinkles—sea snails—for the first and presumably last time.

Miss McBurnett and Board members honored the Drumcliff grave of Nicholas Stokes, the Arizona infant who was born prematurely while his parents were touring the Cliffs of Moher.  Despite their grief, Kelly and Delia Stokes were so moved by the care and kindnesses of the staff there that they later raised over $80,000 as a donation for Baby Nicholas’ Room for first aid and emergency care when the Visitor Centre at the Cliffs was opened.  This was especially meaningful for Danielle, who completed her university degree at age 17 to become the youngest registered nurse in Arizona.  At 18, she is completing her doctorate and specializing in pediatrics.

At an absolutely perfect, calm day at The Cliffs of Moher, Danielle was named a Joint Ambassador in their bid to become one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, along with the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Inside the Visitors Centre’s gift shop, she just happened to meet Elizabeth, the nurse who helped deliver Baby Nicholas.  The random opportunity to become acquainted lent itself for photos which will be shared with the Stokes family upon her return to Phoenix.

A driving tour stopping off at Eugene McNamara’s Pub in Ennistymon; through Lisdoonvarna, the namesake of a well-known authentic pub and Rose sponsor in Peoria, Arizona; then onto Fanore, Blackhead, Ballyvaughan; and the coastal highway landed at An Fulacht Fia Restaurant owned by John and Maureen Connole.  “The gracious hospitality of Ennis and County Clare were exemplary and indicative of the strong, 22-year-old relationship with Phoenix,” shared Board Chairman, T J Waters.  Mr. Waters and Board member, Councillor Mary Howard will be cheering for Danielle as the Rose of Tralee motor coach makes its way through Ennis on Thursday.

Prior to Ennis, Danielle first arrived in Dublin on August 12 and was whisked to Tullamore for an exceptional series of introductions and events, hosted by the Tullamore-Chandler Twinning Board.  The Arizona Rose resides in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.  Her trip included dinner at The Aquarium with Board members and Mayor Molly Buckley; meeting Dan Rooney, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland who was visiting Tullamore at that time; a personal tour and promotion of Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre, the city’s famous whiskey distillery and largest revenue generator.  Special thanks to Brian Garvan, Executive Director, Jackie Gorman, CEO, and Karen Cunningham, Projects Executive, of Atlantic Corridor, funded and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs.  Tony Cummins originally from Tullamore was in town visiting and joined the delegation.  He resides in Arizona and is a vital member of the Irish Community there.

While she was in Ireland, Arizona Rose Centre Chair, Ann Niemann, explored business opportunities with industry development and enterprise personnel in Tullamore and Ennis, including Orla Martin, Offaly County Enterprise Board; John Flanagan and Dominic Doheny, Flanagan Developments Ltd; Jimmy Keane, Invest in Offaly; Adam Skerritt and Marian Murphy, Shannon Development; and Margaret Neylon, Ennis Chamber of Commerce.  Ms. Niemann stated, “The discussions and proposals are very favorable for establishing business ventures in Ireland.  This is an exciting time to invest here in response to the initiatives by the Irish government agencies that are aggressively targeting overseas corporations”. Ms Niemann also thanked the Twinning-Sister Cities’ Boards in Tullamore and Ennis for arranging meetings and coordinating the itinerary