Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon has led a delegation to Co. Limerick to highlight the formal twinning partnership between the U.S. city and Ballylanders.
While the twinning partnership was formally established in 2009, the County Limerick town’s links with Kansas date back more than 160 years to when Irish emigrants helped to establish the State of Kansas’ third largest city. Ballylanders native Father Raymond J. Davern’s name is also well established in Kansas having served in the Archdiocese of Kansas City from 1958 until his death in 2005.
Welcoming the Kansas delegation to Limerick County Hall, Cllr. Jerome Scanlan, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council said: “It is a great honour for County Limerick to have been selected by Kansas City and Wyandotte County as an Irish twinning partner. Such relationships allow community representatives and institutions to explore a wide range of opportunities for the residents of both communities.”
He continued: “With Shannon International Airport just over ten miles down the road from Limerick County Hall, there is no reason why tourism and business opportunities cannot be explored further and in the future nurtured.”
“Furthermore, the presence of three Third Level institutions in County Limerick and a range of top class educational facilities in Kansas presents the potential for the establishment of educational links in the future. In addition and as seen in similar twinning relationships throughout the world, the establishment of Youth Ambassador Programmes can help to further bridge geographical and cultural divides and develop friendship and understanding between Kansas and Limerick.”
The recently established ties between County Limerick and Kansas City go back over 160 years to the time when Wyandotte County was actually first established in 1859. It was Irish labourers who erected the very first bridge, the old Southern Bridge, across the Kansas River. Within four years, there were enough Irish immigrants living in the County to form a company in the Union Army.
In the years that followed, Kansas City's thriving Irish community made the City and surrounding area their home. They were involved in every sector of the community from construction to business to education. Even religious life in the City and County was influenced by a native of Ballylanders, namely the late Father Ray Davern. Fr. Davern, born in 1935, came to the United States and served in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas until his death in 2005.