By Suzanne Pender
THE Maltese ambassador to Ireland enjoyed a visit to Carlow last week as part of the celebrations for EU50 Europe Day 2023.
Europe Day 2023 marks the culmination of the government’s EU50 programme, which has been celebrating key milestones in the 50 years of Ireland’s EU membership.
Giovanni Buttigieg, Maltese ambassador to Ireland, was joined by deputy Kathleen Funchion to visit several schools and popular tourist locations in the county.
As chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Children, deputy Funchion was asked to facilitate an event in Co Carlow to mark EU50.
Ambassador Buttigieg and deputy Funchion visited the teachers and students at Educate Together, Carlow, where they were treated to an engaging question and answer session on the importance of European parliamentary democracy and European citizenship.
The children were very inquisitive about Malta and what an ambassador does, and also brought their guests on a tour of their chicken coop and polytunnel.
The tour then moved on to the impressive Browneshill Dolmen before meeting the students at Tinryland National School. A group of pupils led a tour of the impressive new school building and introduced their guests to the school chicks. The group then moved into the new sixth classroom, where the children asked myriad questions about the ambassador and his job, the role of politicians and how the Irish and European systems work.
In the afternoon, the group moved to the award-winning County Carlow Museum. Museum curator Dermot Mulligan gave ambassador Buttigieg and deputy Funchion a private tour of the facility, discussing some of the county’s more intriguing historic and folklore stories. They were also joined by cllr Andrea Dalton, chair of the museum board, and cathaoirleach of Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council cllr Brian O’Donoghue.
“I was delighted to be asked as chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth to facilitate an event in Co Carlow to mark EU50. The children at both schools are so engaged with the European Union and the positive impact it has had on our country,” said deputy Funchion.
“I know the ambassador was impressed with the children in both schools and their level of knowledge and engagement throughout the day, commenting that ‘inclusion is in the DNA of both schools’.
“I’d like to sincerely thank Dermot Mulligan and his staff for facilitating a private tour of the museum. I know I also speak for the ambassador in saying it was a real highlight of the day. I’d also like to thank chairman O’Donoghue and cllr Dalton for taking the time to join us,” said deputy Funchion.
The group finished their day in local Maltese business Sweet Baking Mama, Castle Street, Carlow, where Liliene and Giovanni treated the group to some delicious Maltese food.