Kerry Mayor Bobby O'Connell (Center)
On Sunday, at Cousin Willie's Parade Day Mass and Corned Beef & Cabbage Fest, I had a chance to catch up with a cousin from Castleisland, County Kerry*. Mayor of Kerry Bobby O'Connell is son of Phil and Ida O'Connell with whom my kids and I had a wonderful visit back in 1999.
SOME of Kerry's most prominent political figures are enjoying the hospitality of our American cousins this St Patrick's Day. Kerry politicians will be part of a number of delegations visiting America to enjoy the festivities and to attempt to forge some potential business and investment links.The Kerryman
Mayor of Kerry, Bobby O'Connell and County Manager Tom Curran have already visited Chicago and they're taking part in further events in New York on St Patricks Day before returning to Kerry on Thursday. Given the state of the economy the cost of the trip is an issue and council management have ensured the budget for the American jaunt is kept as tight as possible.
The entire 10 day trip is set to cost the council €4,800 in total, thanks to shrewd bookings earlier this year or just €480 per day.
Mayor O'Connell and Mr Curran have been joined on their trip by North Kerry TD Jimmy Deenihan (FG) who organised two business breakfast meetings with leading Irish American business people in Chicago and New York. Deputy Deenihan is financing his own trip.
So far the Kerry group have met with Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago and the Cardinal of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George attended an Irish-American reception and met with with the Kerryman's Association in Chicago.
On Tuesday the Kerry delegation had a breakfast meeting and presentation to business interests in the Consul General's Office in New York followed by evening meetings with business and Irish-American interests that evening.
On St Patrick's Day the group are due to attend Mayor Michael Bloomberg's St Patrick's Day Breakfast at Gracie Mansions and the St Patrick's Day Parade with the Kerryman's Association. St Patrick's Day itself will also feature a meeting with the Kerryman's Association at Kerryman's Centre.
* Kerry is an anglicisation of Ciarraí, itself derived from Ciarraighe, or "people of Ciar" the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective describing a dark complexion. The suffix raighe meaning people/tribe is found in various -ry place names in Ireland, such as Osry – Osraighe Deer-People/Tribe.