Waterford and the city of Rochester in New York State celebrated 30 years of twinning last week with a group of Americans visiting Ireland’s oldest city.
The unveiling of a plaque at City Hall to mark the visit of slave abolitionist Frederick Douglass to the city in 1845 with Daniel O’Connell coincided with the celebrations.
There was also a conference on the theme of ‘Hope and Renewal’ timely given that both Waterford and Rochester have suffered significant reverses in their major industries.
Rochester has experienced many job losses in Kodak, Xerox and more recently via Bausch and Lomb. Waterford has also suffered as we known so well and have so extensively reported upon in these pages.
Tom O Connell of Rochester (ex Kodak) did say that unemployment had e3ased with the rate now at just 8 per cent. Rochester was doing well with a focus on medium sized business and New York state earmarking it for technology research due to the strong universities and technical colleges there.
The city was recovering and Waterford could be a possible location for expanding firms looking at Europe, due to the success of Bausch and Lomb here.
Education links between Waterford Institute of Technology are advancing with John Fisher College with nursing being the main course but this may now expand into sports and recreation and possible some form of religious study
William Graf a lecturer in Celtic Spiritual  studies sees theological links here.
Tim Madigan, lecturing in Irish Studies, also sees further growth in Irish studies and maybe more tourism.
Americans are now coming to Europe again after the recession and Waterford does have a high profile in Rochester and they will carry the news back of the Viking Quarter, Winterval and other additions to the tourism product.
Another idea is to bring the blaa to Rochester and Tim went with Tom Murphy to see Dermot Walsh make his blaas at M and D Bakeries.
Many Irish emigrants went to America from Cobh and that was also on the tour group schedule.
The Irish left in the pre famine days and helped build the Erie Canal, which helped create the industrial revolution in America linking the great lakes region with New York abnd the sea . back in those times the Irish lived in tough conditions in the mud flat area or as William Graf put it below the bridge up to the end of the 1900s, now times are different, but the Irish had very humble beginnings and saw poverty.
It took them over 16 hours to travel from Rochester to Waterford via Newark and Dublin airports and were collected by the effervescent Nicky Cummins, who later took  them to Harneys, Dunhill for food and Irish music.
On the Sunday, Mayor John Cummins looked after them with a reception in city hall, they had earlier visited Lismore castle and Tramore  beach.
There was a presentation there at the reception to 3 local charities for a golf fund raiser in Rochester where 4000$ cheques to  Assissi House, St. Martins Special School and the Jonah Project.
This bi annual golf event has raised large sums  for local charities and was initiated by Tom Murphy of Tom Murphy Car Sales.
The sister city conference took place on the Monday at WIT,
Where speakers from WIT and John Fisher spoke, including their president Dr. Donald Bain and their Vice President for Enrollment Dr. Gerard Rooney, as well as WIT’s Dr. Willie Donnelly.
Rochester is also twinned with Reims in the champagne region of France and Wurzburg in Bavaria, Germany, whose patron saint is Irish.  The main part of the group took in these destinations also in their European tour.