The official opening of Castlefinn’s ‘Whitehouse Peace Garden’ took place on Saturday 13th September with the President of the Massachusettes State Senate, Therese Murray, officially declaring it open. Funding of €181,865 for the project was provided through the Donegal Local Development Company Ltd’s (DLDC) LEADER Rural Development Programme with match funding of some €120K bringing the overall cost over €300K. The oval pavilion is inspired by the Oval Office. The gates are a replica of the North Gates and the garden is inspired by the historic relations between America and Ireland. These are just some of the features at the unique White House Peace Garden at CPI Complex Castlefinn. Speaking at the opening, President Murray said she was astonished with the project and with its potential for continuing the tremendous relationship between Ireland and America. The educational potential of the pavilion with the history of the American and Irish presidents will serve the community and visitors alike.
Also speaking at the opening, CPI Ltd Director Michael Carlin thanked DLDC for their support through the Leader Programme and indeed for all their help since they commenced work on the CPI Centre. He recounted the mutual interest and synergies between their project and the most powerful house in the world. This garden will pay tribute to the many thousands of people who have travelled to the USA many of which have helped to build the empire it now is, every aspect of history, culture and horticulture embedded in this project. “Developing a specialised historical service within the visitors centre is something we are progressing. The primary aim of the White House Peace Garden is to pay tribute to the many thousands of people who have travelled to the USA many of which have helped to build the empire it now is and to the role that America has played in the peace process here in our own Country, every aspect of history, culture and horticulture embedded in this project is a reminder of this. The next step is to trace the historic roots between both countries and note the travels of families from this county to the land of opportunity”. He also paid tribute to Dermot Gavin for his inspiration and idea, Barry Mc Cullagh, Architects for putting the idea on a plan, Gildea Contractors, for the very high standard of workmanship, and to the various funding agencies over the years, the CPI Committee and to Donegal County Council, for their ongoing support.
Chairman of DLDC Ltd., Mr Jim Slevin representing the funders of the project said: “As a Board, the Directors of Donegal Local Development Company are always delighted to assist local communities and, in particular, groups developing capital projects which significantly bolster community infrastructure such as this tremendous project being opened today. When harnessed and well-managed the power of local community and social enterprise can build the capacity of the people and families they serve. The achievements of such actions are often astonishing. Initiatives such as this meet the needs of the communities they serve as well as creating economies of scale in Donegal. The CPI Whitehouse Peace Garden Project is a testament to the success of the local community and the LEADER Rural Development Programme both here in the county as well as throughout the nation. LEADER is one of the core funding programmes administered by DLDC and has played a major role in revitalising rural communities and the rural economy of Donegal”.
Seamus Neely, Chief Executive with Donegal County Council, also paid tribute to the project and to the tremendous opportunities that now can be explored as a direct result of its development. He thanked all involved in its development and especially the CPI Committee, who had the ingenuity and creativity to develop a project of this nature. This garden symbolises our longstanding connection with North America and indeed with our diaspora across the globe. Having Senate President Therese Murray here today to officially open the garden is a great honour for all of us and we are fully committed to continuing to develop our connections and linkages with Massachusetts. He added “this initiative is a great example of the Councils ongoing work in building vibrant, progressive and sustainable communities in Donegal”.