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The Irish are Coming!


Lanesborough, MA (October 2, 2007):  The first group of residents of Lanesborough, County Longford, Ireland, is expected to arrive in Berkshire County on October 9, 2007, as the result of the Sister Town relationship between that Irish community and Lanesborough, Massachusetts.  The official signing of a proclamation creating the relations took place first in Lanesborough Town Hall in Berkshire County in July 2006 and the document was hand carried to Lanesborough, Ireland by Stephanie and Mark Abrams, Lanesborough residents, where it was countersigned at their town hall on August 31, 2006.

“It is so exciting to receive these wonderful people in Berkshire County,” Stephanie Abrams states.  “We share more than just a common name.  The derivation of the name of both Lanesboroughs comes from the Lane family.  The Governor of Massachusetts, William Shirley, a good friend of the Count of Lanesborough, founded Lanesborough, MA in 1741, naming it after his friend's wife, the Countess, known by her friends as, ‘Lovely' Lanesborough.  The Berkshire town of Lanesborough lives up to that expectation,” Abrams notes.

The group will be traveling around Berkshire Country from their arrival until they head homeward on October 14th.  Abrams explains that a full agenda of sightseeing and evening events have been planned so that the Irish group gets to know Berkshire County and its people. Berkshire County residents interested in joining in the festivities have a wealth of events to participate in including: dinner and a hayride at Eastover Resort in Lenox on October 10th, dinner with music by Wintergreen at the Skyline Golf & Country Club in Lanesborough on October 11th,  a reception at the Lanesborough Fire House on Route 7 on October 12th followed by ceremony at Lanesborough Town Hall with the presentation of the Key to Lanesborough to the visitors and a party at the Old Forge in Lanesborough, and, on October 13th, a Farewell Party at Lanesborough's Derek James Restaurant where the Irish band, The Dossers, and the Michael Farrell School of Irish Dancing will perform. Anyone interested in joining in any of the activities can email or call the Lanesborough Town Secretary at 413-442-1167.

 Included in the sightseeing program is a visit at  Lanesborough Elementary school, a walking tour of the historic sites of Lanesborough led by Jeff Dechaine, a member of the Lanesborough, MA historical committee and local fire fighter, and visits to important sites in Berkshire County including the Norman Rockwell Museum, Chesterwood, the Natural Bridge at which local North Adams historian, Paul Marino will provide insights and explanations, and a tour of Williamstown. A highlight on their itinerary is a visit to the Lenox gallery of world renowned bronze sculptor Andrew DeVries who has twice visited Lanesborough, Ireland since he learned of the twinning of the towns. DeVries reciprocated on behalf of Lanesborough, MA who received a bog oak sculpture made from Irish bog wood that is carbon dated to over 5000 years old from their Irish counterpart by presenting one of his bronze works of art titled, “Shaker Angel” to the Irish community on his 2006 trip to Ireland.  He has recently returned from a trip to Ireland which included his second visit to the townspeople of Lanesborough, County Longford.

 Among the 17 expected  visitors are: Peggy Nolan, Mayor of Longford, John Kelly, Mayor of Roscommon, Adie Farrell, Sean Farrell and Fabian Walsh who are all member of their Local Council.  Additionally, two Bostonians and a sheriff from Worcester, MA., all former residents of Lanesborough, Ireland, are planning to visit Berkshire County to participate in the events.

 “We fully expect that friendships will forge and bonds will be made that will create the first steps of building a bridge of people creating a two-way flow of cultural experiences for the youngest to the oldest of both communities. There is a special electricity and aura around these impending events with the townspeople of Lanesborough, MA participating by contributing their skills, talents, knowledge and time to maximize the experience for the visitors and creating  opportunities for our townspeople to get to know them,” Abrams explains.  “I have an active and caring committee committed to making this event memorable for all who participate. And we are already focusing on how we continue the relationships we will establish with their town and with the individuals who are coming here as well as starting plans to reciprocate by visiting them in  Ireland!” Abrams notes.

Asked about the effects of creating sister city/sister town ties on tourism, Abrams, a noted travel and tourism expert whose nationally syndicated travel radio shows air in Berkshire County,  remarks, “I have listened to people say that you cannot create market; you have to divert market from other places. While it is possible to steal market-share, when you create market you own it because it is unique to you.  The exercise of creating the sister towns of the two Lanesboroughs is an object lesson in how to bring tourism into the county by creating a new market.  You can't go to Maine or Pennsylvania as a trip choice if you want to meet the people and learn about the community you are linked to so there is no chance to lose your unique market to another destination that is aggressively targeting travelers who choose Massachusetts! While this group is relatively small, its potential growth is huge. This little group is creating 60 room nights in Berkshire County plus other economic benefits,” Abrams states. “If every town in the county, in Massachusetts, for that matter, created a sister town relationship with a place with which they find synergy, the number of incoming visitors would rise exponentially!” Abrams concludes, "And that's just one example of how to create new market!"

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