WATERFORD should do more to capitalise on its association with the Irish flag in a bid to enhance the city’s tourist offering. That was the refrain shared last weekend by Michael Garland, who is a member of the 1848 Tricolour Celebration’s organising committee.
Speaking at the Celebration’s Gala Dinner held at the Granville Hotel on Saturday last, Mr Garland said the city’s association with the Tricolour ought to be positively exploited in a manner similar to Waterford’s association with crystal.
“To me, this is open door stuff,” he told the Waterford News & Star. “Given Thomas Francis Meagher’s lineage to Waterford, and the first flying of the Tricolour at 33, The Mall in 1848, Waterford is intimately associated with the Irish flag. And I believe we have a huge tourism asset here which has yet to be fully tapped into. We’ve promoted and sold the link with the city’s glass making heritage brilliantly, we’ve also honoured Waterford’s Viking and Norman association through our fantastic museum offering and the Greenway is already instantly associated with the name ‘Waterford’. I believe we should do likewise when it comes to promoting our status as home of the Tricolour and I really hope we can grasp this opportunity and develop a viable and very attractive tourism product.”
City and County Mayor John Pratt said that the “Tricolour, whose origins are firmly embedded in Waterford’s history, remains one of the most powerful symbols of our Irishness at home and abroad and has inspired generations since its inception in 1848…Waterford has forged close links with the successor of Thomas Francis Meagher’s Irish Brigade, the Fighting 69th and I warmly welcomed its representatives who are attending again this year.”
Among the travelling party was Corporal Joseph Ryan of the New York National Guard’s Fighting 69th Irish Infantry, whom, along with partner Olivia Warren, clearly reveled in his first visit to Ireland.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve been blown away by Waterford, from the welcome to the people, to the food and the Greenway, which we did earlier today. To get out into the countryside like that is not something we get to do in America and I really enjoyed it in terms of immersing myself in the culture of this part of the world. And I just hope we’ll get the opportunity to reciprocate such a welcome in the United States to some of those we’ve met here over the past few days. I love America, that pretty much goes without saying, but of course we don’t have the medieval history that European countries such as Ireland has and it’s fantastic to witness it at first hand. It feels a little like being in a movie. It’s just been an awesome experience – I’ve even had a blaa and black pudding with dinner this evening! – and it’d be great to travel here again and take in some more of the country.”
Members of the Island of Ireland Peace Choir, including International Rose of Tralee Kirsten Mate Maher, performed a series of numbers prior to the serving of dinner in the Granville’s Tapestry Room.
On Friday last, some 700 new Irish citizens received their credentials at a ceremony held at the WIT Arena (attended by Minister of State John Halligan), with many of those new citizens ferried to 33, The Mall as part of their special day.
The traditional flag raising ceremony was held on The Mall early on Sunday, with the weekend’s fine weather clearly justifying the committee’s decision to move the event from its previous traditional staging each March. Next year will mark the 10th staging of the Tricolour Festival in Waterford.