Members of the Presiding Council of the European Charter of Rural Communities arrived in Cashel last Saturday, January 15, in advance of Cashel's hosting of the European Charter from June 30 this year.
The Presiding Council were received at a reception chaired by Mayor Michael Browne and Vice-Mayor Maribel Wood, with Charter organisers from both Cashel Town Council and members of Cashel Community in attendance. The five day event, which concludes on July 4, will see 260 delegates from across the European Union, staying with host families and participating in conferences and a myriad of Irish Cultural events organised for the occasion. Planning for Cashel's hosting of the European Charter commenced in earnest from June last year. The Presiding Council met the Charter organisers to discuss Cashel's development of this internationally momentous occasion.
The conference carries the weighty theme of 'the role of demographic development in rural economy'. Cllr. Eoghan Lawrence heads a team developing the conference. The ethos of the European Charter firmly recognises that the citizens and community of its member towns – just one town from each country – forms the central role of their representation to Europe. While the activities of the European Charter occur under the tutelage of each town council, community organisations and individuals are pivotal to its success. This enables both town councillors and citizens to work in concert to develop Cashel's role on both the national and international stage. Cllr Lawrence and members of the Conference Team are developing a programme in conjunction with organisations such as South Tipperary Enterprise Board. They anticipate active participation from attending countries, in which the world-wide recession and measures member towns including Cashel are initiating to combat the continuing trends of business closures and job losses will be discussed. The programme will see European delegates visiting examples of some of Cashel's successful businesses, with the potential for all countries to develop trade links in to the future.
Ms. Olivia Quinlan's Events Team, with both Ms. Ger Laffey and Production Manager Shaun Leahy have prevailed over the mammoth task of planning events over the five day period showcasing County Tipperary's rich cultural resources. The hub of these activities will centre on Cashel's Main Street car park, which will be transformed into a European Charter village. Many of the free activities will be open to the public and will accommodate a trade show of Tipperary's artisan food producers and crafts. Many other locations in the town will be transformed during the five day period. Members of the public and visitors to Cashel will enjoy events from live acts and performances, modern Irish culture to those that celebrate our heritage amongst various other installations. The town of Kandava in Latvia will host the European Charter in 2012. In recognition of this, the Events Team have arranged for the Latvian Choir in Dublin to perform during Cashel's hosting. In a recent visit to Cashel, Peteris Elferts, the ambassador of Latvia to Ireland, informed Cashel's organisers that Latvia's national pastime is choir music, with Latvia's principal choir formed of 1,200 people. The Events Team are also arranging for the nearly 50 community organisations of Cashel to demonstrate to both the June visitors and the public the significant role they play in enhancing the lives of Cashel people and environs. Any interested organisations should contact Olivia in Cashel's Heritage Centre at 062 62511.
The 260 delegates arriving in Cashel on June 30 will be composed of a mixture of council representatives and citizens of the towns representing their country to the European Charter. Approximately 100 of them will be Youth Delegates aged up to 25 years old. The delegates will reside with host families during their short visit. This creates the opportunity for both host families and delegates to learn of each others cultures. English is the official language of the European Charter of which most of the delegates are competent speakers. For most of the period, host families will be expected to provide breakfast and one or two evening meals for their guests, including one morning in which the families will arrange an activity for their guests. The families will also have the opportunity to participate in some events arranged by the Events Team, including a concluding end of Charter dinner dance. In the past many host families and guests have formed life-long friendships and visited each others countries. To date approximately 110 of the 260 required bed spaces have been created under the able work of Cllr PJ Quinlan and Mayor Michael Browne. Any family wishing to take part and host delegates should contact Cllr PJ Quinlan at 086 8397234 or email@example.com. The hosting team will provide every assistance to the host families. Neighbours and work colleagues are encouraged to club together and enlist as host families. Ger Laffey has been diligently organising Delegate Liaison volunteers, many of whom are either multi-lingual or are non-national Cashel residents to assist in any language barriers.
2011 is the International Year of the Volunteer and both Ms. Hilery Tarrant (Centre Manager) and Ms. Amanda Quigley (Placement Officer) of South Tipperary Volunteer Centre are eagerly assisting Cashel's organisers of the European Charter. Those who wish to participate in this enriching experience should contact South Tipperary Volunteer Centre on its website at www.volunteersouthtipperary.ie, which will shortly have a dedicated Cashel Charter page. Alternatively Cashel Spafield Resource Centre will take messages at 062 263622.
20 of Cashel's 30 delegates will be formed by Cashel and environs youth. The Youth Co-ordination Team led by Ms. Catherine Doyle (Tipperary Youth Services) with the assistance of Ms. Sherine Prendergast and Mr. Alexander Fallon are developing a programme of events and activities for the occasion. If you are aged between 16 and 25 years and wish to represent your county and country to Europe, contact Catherine at 087 7726888 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Both Sherine and Alexander will represent Ireland at a European Charter Youth Conference from 24th to 27th of March in Troisvierges, Luxembourg.
Cashel will be represented to Esch in the Netherlands at the end of January. Dr. Niall Gregory, Communications Officer for Cashel to the European Charter and a representative of the Irish Embassy to the Netherlands will give a presentation at a reception on Cashel and Ireland. Dr. Niall Gregory will extol the attributes of County Tipperary, its people, scenery, culture, heritage, sports and facilities. Tourism economy has been recognised by state agencies such as Failte Ireland and Discover Ireland as an aspect of the Irish Economy that should be developed in to the future. It is anticipated that Cashel's forthcoming presentation in the Netherlands – amongst similar forthcoming opportunities – will play its role in developing Tipperary as a destination to visit and enjoy. Cashel will receive a national focus on the 23rd of March when it launches its 100 day countdown to the start of the European Charter on 30th June. Any queries about the European Charter can be directed to Niall at email@example.com.