They came here as part of The Gathering. A group of fourteen visitors from Geel led by Mayor Vera Celis has returned to Belgium following a five day stay in Tydavnet, County Monaghan, with which the town in Flanders is twinned. The common connection is St Dympna, whose story is reflected in both areas.
The well of St Dympna at Culdavnet has had access restored and the visitors went there to collect some of the water. The Mayor of Geel Vera Celis also planted a tree at the former national school at Cornagilta, which the local community hopes to open as a heritage centre.
The group also visited the mens’ shed project in Monaghan town and were given a tour of the new educational complex on the site of the former military barracks, as well as a tour of the new Garage Theatre. It was an interesting programme put together by the hard-working local committee of volunteers in Tydavnet, with the support of Monaghan County Council. On Sunday morning the visitors attended the 10am Mass at St Dympna’s church in Tydavnet and they were brought afterwards to the community centre for refreshments.
The visitors stayed with local families and in return, visitors from Tydavnet are hosted by local people when they travel to Geel. An invitation was made by Vera Celis and Councillor Nadine Laeremans for the Tydavnet group to travel to Geel in May 2015 when the next St Dympna pageant (“Omegang”) will take place, a celebration held every five years.
Before they departed, Mayor Vera Celis presented Marie McAree representing the Tydavnet group with a gift: a statue of St Dympna from Geel. A suitable place must now be found to display it, perhaps in the chapel.