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Santa Monica Councilmember Hopes to Add Irish Sister City
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By Lookout Staff

July 14, 2016 -- Santa Monica has sister cities in Germany, Japan and Mexico. Now it could add a city on the Gaelic west coast of Ireland.

While vacationing on the emerald isle, Councilmember Kevin McKeown met
with "senior leadership" of Galway this week to discuss entering into a “sister city” relationship, he announced in a statement this week.

McKeown, whose ancestors hail from Ireland, believes Galway, which claims 75,528 residents as well as a large rural population, would make an ideal sister city for Santa Monica, which has a population of 93,640.

“We are both small west coast cities fortuitously situated on an eponymous bay,” he wrote in an introductory letter to Galway City Hall.

Like Santa Monica, Galway is "an actively sustainable city with strengths in technology, education, and the arts," said McKeown, vice-chair of the Irish-American Caucus of the California Democratic Party, who visited Galway during their annual Arts Festival.

“I’ve already had encouragement from the Santa Monica Sister City Association, and will bring the proposal for Galway to our City Council when I return,” McKeown said, adding hat Galway will undertake the same process.

A University town, Galway has a vibrant cultural scene that makes it ideal as a sister city, which typically exchanges students and cultural events with its counterpart, he said.

Galway boasts Lynch's Castle, widely considered one of Ireland's finest medieval houses and now a bank, and St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church, the largest active medieval church on the island.

Galway is featured in Joyce's short story "The Dead" when Gretta Conroy recalls her lover throwing stones against her window in the city in a scene considered one of the finest in world literature. Joyce's wife, Nora Barnacle, was from Galway.

The sister cities movement launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 in an effort to forge ties to citizens of other nations to promote cultural understanding and world peace.

Santa Monica's sister cities are Hamm, Germany; Mazatlan, Mexico, and Fujinomiya, Japan.

Last year, while Mayor, McKeown visited Fujinomiya to celebrate forty years of friendship ("Santa Monica Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Sister City in Japan," August 18, 2015).

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