It's parish politics as Boston mayor hits Connemara
AN IRISH-SPEAKING village which has made a remarkable contribution to US politics is preparing to celebrate the biggest day in its history.
The Connemara parish of Carna will play host to the Mayor of Boston in a 'homecoming' event designed to strengthen the area's connection with its emigrants across the Atlantic.
Mayor Martin Walsh, who was elected last November, has been a regular visitor to Carna, the birthplace of his late father, John. His mother Mary is a native of nearby Rosmuc.
The White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, also has strong Carna connections -his grandfather came from the parish. Maine Senator Margaret Craven is a native of Carna and the only Irish-born senator in the US.
The mother of former Maine Governor Joseph Brennan hailed from the village as did the father of former Massachussetts Senator and now Harvard Professor John McDonough
And Ireland's outgoing EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn is a native of Carna.
Mayor Walsh is travelling to Carna next month to lay the foundation stone for an Emigrants Commemorative Centre which will form a tangible link between the residents of the Carna/Cill Chiarain parish and their emigrants.
A committee has been working on the project for a number of years and former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave who spent a year attending the local national school in 1930 has agreed to become a patron of the project.
"We intend building the centre at the site of the old Parish Hall in Carna which was originally the national school.
"It has many memories for the people of the area both at home and abroad", said Committee chairman Mairtin O Cathain.
The new centre will house an information library dealing with local and family history, a folklore and culture room, hall for hosting parish events, meeting rooms, café and an emigrants' remembrance garden.
"The centre will have a multi-focused approach-to honour our emigrants, link the diaspora and provide a living picture of the history of a rural, Irish speaking west of Ireland community", Mr O Cathain said.
Mr Walsh is the first mayor of Boston in 20 years to have Irish heritage.
After his election as mayor he spoke proudly of his roots, saying: "Let me tell you, my parents had big dreams for their kids... but I'm not sure they were this big."