A Northern Ireland community is preparing for a Canadian invasion this fall.
More than 30 people have signed up for the City of Armstrong’s sister city committee tour to Rathfriland in September and October.
“We are so looking forward to this trip,” said committee member Jessie Ann Gamble during a Skype meeting session with Rathfriland counterparts in council chambers.
“Our numbers keep increasing.”
The trip is slated to leave Sept. 25 for a 10-day tour of the Republic of Ireland. The tour will then head to Newcastle, about 13 kilometres from Rathfriland, in Northern Ireland, for five days from Oct. 5 to 10.
“We will put some plans together and have a full lineup for you,” said Rathfriland committee member Andrew Peters.
A sister city committee was formed in Armstrong in 2015, and an agreement signed with Rathfriland the same year.
The common bond between the two communities is Catherine Schubert (née O’Hare), born in Rathfriland in 1835 and died in Armstrong in 1918.
Schubert was the first woman to enter B.C. overland from eastern Canada, settling in Armstrong where a memorial to her stands in the city’s Memorial Park.
“I just submitted an application form to my local council for funding to work on a piece of public art that will commemorate Catherine Schubert,” said Donna Weir, a member of the Rathfriland sister city committee.
“It will look at the journey she made from here to you.
“Andy and I have been planning events, information and awareness and hope to get the rest of the community involved to realize what a wonderful woman she was.”
A group from Rathfriland is expected to reciprocate with a visit to Armstrong around the time of the Interior Provincial Exhibition in 2017, which is also Canada’s 150th birthday.
Armstrong committee member Louise Everest told the Irish group that students from Armstrong Elementary School had written about 20 letters to students at Iveagh Primary School in Rathfriland.
They also included a number of pictures in a package which is being mailed.
The letters are replies to ones received from students at Iveagh.
“They are so happy you made contact with them,” smiled Everest.