Students from James Madison University, Virginia, Kelsie LaPore, Dalton Wagner, Laura Malia, with Seamus Kelly, author of new book on Maura Laverty
It has been a whirlwind few weeks for the Rathangan Tidy Towns committee with a visit from a top US university, and a unique picnic in the newly restored Quaker graveyard.
Fourteen students and three lecturers from James Madison University, Virginia, arrived in the Kildare town on May 29 for an eight day visit.
This was part of an International Partnership Project with Rathangan Tidy Towns, Waterways Ireland and James Madison University.
The students embarked on the community-based research project which fostered a sense of place, and raised the awareness of Ireland’s heritage with the canal at its heart.
Aileen Dunne of the Tidy Towns committee said the visit was a huge success.
“They were thrilled with the welcome they received in Rathangan. I think they went on to Achill Island and then Cork. It went really well and the local Transition Year students came down to greet them and it was great for the students to meet people around their own age,” she said.
The group compiled information from the visit and captured unique drone footage of the town.
“The brainstorming session in the community centre also went really well and they gathered lots of information,” added Aileen.
The university plans to complete its report in two weeks time with recommendations for the committee.
Visiting American students from James Madison University, Virginia, Laura Maila and Dalton Wagner (centre) unveiled a plaque to commemorate Rathangan born Poet and Professor of English, William A. Byrne, pictured with fellow students and members of Rathangan tidy towns, Emma O’Byrne, Carmel Mulvhill, John Fullam, Aileen Dunne and Vanessa Mack on June 2. New plaques were put in place to replace the old ones.
Photo: Tony Keane.
Paddy O’Byrne hosted the community centre forum which covered Rathangan’s rich history, culture, and environment. The speakers were Seamus Kelly, Michael Jacob, Padraig Doyle, Fiona O’Loughlin TD, John Hoey and Cllr Mark Stafford.
Arising from its participation in the development of Waterways Ireland Heritage Plan 2016–2020, Rathangan was invited to host the study abroad project which included the town, river and wildlife heritage.
READ MORE: Rathangan delighted with Tidy Towns results
The group also visited the Irish Peatland Conservation Council Centre and took part in a High Nellie fun cycle through the town as well as attending a football match between Rathangan and Ellistown.
The next event on the Tidy Town’s calendar was the Quakers Picnic, which was held last Sunday in the restored Quaker cemetery.
“The picnic was a great success, we had great fun, and made lots of new friends,” said Aileen, “We have decided to have it as an annual event.”
Quakers from Ballitore, Edenderry, and Dublin traveled to Rathangan to join with locals.
The weather didn’t dampen the spirits with gazebos in place to keep the elements at bay.