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By Luann SchindlerSummerland Advocate North Central District...

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Butterfields Take Trip To Ireland To Promote Twinning

Oct 5, 2022 (0)

Town twinning event — Photo taken at the Twinning event in Blessington, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland. Phil Butterfieldis shown holding the banner presented from O'Neill to Blessington at the event. The banner has the statue of John O'Neill with the brick shamrock in front, with two of the three bricks sponsored by the Blessington-O'Neill Twinning Committee in the foreground, The Worlds's Largest Permanent Shamrock, and, the Welcome signs of both towns, each featuring reference to being twinned with the other. County Wicklow is nicknamed The Garden of Ireland, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. Photo Credit: Phyllis Hamilton
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Official document — Mayor Scott Menish and Natalie Butterfield hold the twinning document Butterfield brought back from Ireland for Menish to Sign.
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General O'Neill birthplace — Natalie and Phil Butterfield got a chance to visit the land where John O'Neill was born. All that is left is a marker made from the stone of the house.

The City of O'Neill is now official regarding the twinning part of its sister city in Ireland.

Phil and Natalie Butterfield helped  the project when the couple traveled to Ireland at the end of August this year to participate in the ceremony and watch a Husker game.

The Butterfields boarded their flight on Tuesday, Aug. 23, for their ultimate destination 40 miles south of Dublin, for the ceremony on Friday, Aug. 26.

The Butterfields attended the event on the morning of Friday, Aug. 26. “We came to the Wicklow County offices for the twinning, and because we were traveling, we didn't pack a lot of dress clothes; the members of the twinning committee showed up in formal attire. I was a little embarrassed when we showed up in T-Shirts to the event,” said Natalie.

Members of the Blessington Twinning group and John Mullen a ranking member of the local government  signed the document linking the two municipalities. 

The document the Butterfields took to Ireland reads,” Be it known that this day, Aug. 26, 2022, in recognition of our town's twinned status, we present this O'Neill–Blessington Banner.

The banner highlights in photographs, the newly-raised statue of Irish-born General John C. O'Neill, the founder of our town, who “fought with distinction for his adopted country, and was ever ready to draw his sword for his native land.” In the foreground of the shamrock mosaic can be seen two of the bricks donated by the Blessington–O'Neill Twinning Committee toward the creation of this noted sculpture. Another photograph features the World's Largest Permanent Shamrock, at O'Neill's main intersection, with the historic Golden Hotel and St. Patrick's church, on view in the background.

Lastly, Welcome signs for each of the towns are shown. Both signs highlight their twinned status with the other, including the national flags of both countries. O'Neill's sign also makes known the town's pride in being the official “Irish Capital of Nebraska,” proclaimed by the Governor in 1969.

May the twin towns of Blessington, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland, and O'Neill, Holt County, Nebraska, United States of America, ever celebrate their twin status, warmly welcome visits from one another, and prosper in peace and freedom.

“The people were quite pleasant as they took us on a little tour. Gerry O'Neill was also present and a local dignitary in Blessington County. O'Neill a relative of the General, has been to O'Neill and was the Grand Marshall of a recent St. Patrick's Day in O'Neill.

“We were also treated to a tour of St. Mary's Church of Ireland, and placed flowers in the churchyard at the grave of a Blessington man who had emigrated to Nebraska during the 1800s. The church was built in 1682, and features the oldest operational turret clock in Ireland, and the oldest church bells. The bell-ringing demonstration was so impressive! At the dinner following, ideas were discussed for sharing cultural and historical displays between the two towns. Last year, following the lifting of the covid lockdowns in Ireland, Blessington held its first Halfway to St. Pat's celebration, believed to be the first such event in Ireland.” said Butterfield.

“We didn't stay as long as we would have liked, but we wanted to get back for the pep rally in Dublin for the Huskers.

The Butterfields spent more time in Ireland after the Husker game exploring the birthplace of General O'Neill and well as other historical spots.

On Monday, Sept. 26 the Butterfields brought a twinning document that was signed by O'Neill Mayor Scott Menish.

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