Fisher Participates in 30th Anniversary of Sister City Relationship Celebrations in Ireland
The city of Waterford, Ireland, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Sister City relationship with Rochester on October 7, and several members of the Fisher community traveled to Ireland to participate.
President Bain and Dr. Gerry Rooney served as presenters in the “Hope and Renewal” Waterford-Rochester Sister City Conference, discussing the relationship between the College and the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in more depth, and the partnerships that have been formed to mutually benefit students.
Dr. Tim Madigan, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Irish Studies Program, and Father William Graf, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, also served as presenters. The conference was hosted by the Creativity and Culture Research Group, WIT, and Fisher. Madigan presented, "Irish Studies Here and There: The St. John Fisher/Waterford Institute of Technology Connection." The title of Graf's presentation was, "American College Students and Celtic Spirituality." Both presentations were live streamed back to the Fisher campus, allowing students and faculty to join the conversation.
In addition, they took part in the unveiling of a blue plaque on the Blue Plaque Trail, which commemorated Rochester’s own Frederick Douglass’ visit to Waterford in October of 1845. The Blue Plaque Trail is a joint venture between the Waterford City Council and the Waterford Civic Trust, and is a walking trail of almost 40 plaques intended to commemorate a link between a particular location and a famous person or event. Douglass’ blue plaque was installed at Waterford City Hall.
(From L to R): Dr. Ruaidhri Neavyn, President of Waterford Institute of Technology; Dr. Timothy Madigan, Director of Fisher's Irish Studies Program and Assistant Professor of Philosophy; Cllr. John Cummins, His Worship, the Mayor of Waterford; President Bain; and Mr. Donal Brazil, Waterford Civic Trust at the unveiling of Blue Plaque to honor Frederick Douglas at Waterford City Hall.
Douglass — a former slave, abolitionist, and human rights activist — visited Ireland and Britain for an extended lecture tour from 1845-1847. He arrived in Waterford on October 8, 1845, to make a speech at City Hall about human rights. The records about his speech are scarce, but one local newspaper wrote about a high attendance at the event.
According to Madigan, many did not know of Douglass’ ties to Ireland, which is one of the reasons the Irish Studies Program hosted the “Frederick Douglass in Ireland” conference on campus in February of 2013. The conference included a full day of sessions focused on Douglass’ legacy and role as a human rights advocate in the 1800s, and his time in Ireland. Madigan made opening remarks at the plaque unveiling.
An evening reception, hosted by Bain, took place at the end of Monday's conference for Waterford business leaders; members of the WIT community, including President Neavyn; members of the Rochester-Waterford Sister Cities delegation; and representatives of the Sister Cities Golf Tournament.
Bain presented checks to three Waterford-area charities during the reception on behalf of the Rochester-Waterford Sister Cities Golf Tournament. A total of $12,000 was donated to the Assisi House, The Jonah Project, and St. Martins Special School.
Bain presenting Cllr. John Cummins, His Worship, the Mayor of Waterford, with the proceeds from the Sister Cities Golf Tournament.