An exchange of culture and sport took place last month with the arrival of the footballers of Coueron, the French town which has been twinned with Wexford for the past 34 years.
The visit was organised by Jackie Ménard (nee Byrne), a Lower Abbey Street woman who met and married her husband Didier during a previous exchange event. Jackie has since gone on to become a local councillor in Coueron and is now in charge of international relations between the towns.
Having previously arranged exchanges involving schools, work experiences, music and culture, this visit was primarily a sporting one, with two of Coueron's football teams coming to Wexford; UF St.Herblain and LEA Étoile sportive Coueron.
Arriving to a reception from Wexford Borough Council, the players stayed in the villas near Ballineskar Beach upon their arrival. The next day members of the LEA Étoile group, which is a club for people with disabilities, met up with service users from Wexford's Able/Disabled Club.
'We spent a very emotional afternoon with some of the members who explained how they work for disabled people in Wexford, we finished by twinning and look forward to hosting them in 2021 for our adapted Olympics,' said Jackie.
Then came the small matter of a friendly match with Curracloe United, and a chance for footballing cultures to be exchanged on the field of play. And it was the visitors who came out on top, a comfortable victory ensuring the young French players returned home with their heads held high.
'There was great atmosphere between both of them and we hope also to have them over for a friendly match in St.Herblain,' said Jackie of the game.
Football over and done with, the visitors sampled the best of Wexford's tourist attractions, taking in Kilmore Quay and Hook Head before being serenaded by Mayor George Lawlor in the Stores on Sunday morning. 'Both groups went back with great memories and new friends, it's always a pleasure taking French people over to visit Wexford. As a Wexford woman from Lower Abbey street I like to keep the flag flying for the Model County, my roots are here and I'll never forget them,' said Jackie.