Twinning with Plougonven
Breton Twinners at Inniscarra – April 2016
For over 25 years now Inniscarra has been linked with the Commune of Plougonven in Finistere, Brittany. This small town is just 30km from the ferry port of Roscoff, and every two years a group travels from one side to the other to be hosted in local family homes.

Inniscarra is one of the most diverse areas of the county, and this April the sound of Breton accents and the thrilling notes of the bombarde and the biniou resounded across Cloghroe, Blarney, Tower and further afield, giving notice that the Inniscarra – Plougonven Twinning was in full swing.

Arriving by Brittany Ferries to Ringaskiddy on Saturday April 9th, twenty-nine Bretons from Plougonven near Morlaix were enthusiastically greeted at the Wayside Inn in Cloghroe and later at the Blarney Castle Hotel. The Bretons served notice early that on this trip they were not going to be outshone in the Celtic musical stakes, putting on a tour-de-force of singing, dancing and playing that was met with equal commitment by the locals, including the Frost Band, Barry Looney of Blarney, and Joe Noonan of Kerry Pike among others.

After an unseasonably cold but fascinating visit to Muckross House on Sunday, the group and their hosts were met by spring sunshine and cordon bleu cookery at Cork Institute of Technology’s Tourism and Hospitality restaurant on Monday. This warmed them up for one of the highlights of the Twinning – a vigorous session of Irish and Breton songs of the Rising and the Great War. Inniscarra Twinning Chairperson Ed Riordan pointed out that this was a Twinning with a strong theme – Remembrance, and how understand the shared past makes Europe stronger.

Later in the week, the Twinning focussed on daily life in Inniscarra, with which the visitors were totally enamoured. A dairy farm visit to Eva and Tim Mullane’s of Cloghroe was followed by the heritage museum at Ballyanly; and one of the highlights of the week was undoubtedly the Ceili Dancing session at Stuake. Jacqueline Rolland of the Plougonven Twinners said that this was an “intimate and soulful week of insights into the real Ireland”. In addition, the remembrance theme was reinforced by a tour of the Collins Barracks Museum led by Gerry White of the Irish Army, who delved into Easter 1916, ties with revolutionary France, and the suffering in the trenches of eastern France in the Great War.
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Breton musicians at Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig inspire a dance!
This intriguing and energetic week was rounded off by a lively session at Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig. An amazing array of musical and dance talent was complemented by the warmth of the welcome, and the energy with which the Bretons got stuck in. At a later visit to County Hall Mayor J.P. O’Shea complimented both sides for 25 years of exchanges. MEP Deirdre Clune also expressed amazement at the community-based vitality of the Plougonven Inniscarra relationship at the final banquet at Muskerry Golf Club. This latter was the setting for a final full-throttle trad-rock Fest Noz where 100 twinning supporters completed another chapter of this unique twinning.