Chicago’s Mayor trades Windy City for wet west

The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, planting a yew tree to mark his visit to the Circle of Life Garden in Salthill this week. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

The Mayor of Chicago and President Barak Obama’s former White House chief of staff led a 33-strong delegation to Galway this week where he was conferred with an honorary doctorate and planted a tree in the Circle of Life Garden in Salthill.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was honoured at a civic reception “in recognition of the long-standing links between the City of Galway and the City of Chicago which recognises the men and women of Galway who have made Chicago their own and whose contribution to the City of Chicago has been well recognised over the decades through this sister city relationship”.

The event for 120 invitees at the Galmont Hotel, co-hosted by Galway City Council and the Galway Chicago Sister Cities committee, was attended by his delegation which included engineering firms, distillers, tourism interests, bankers, lawyers, aldermen (city councillors), representatives of the Chicago Police Department and various unions.

In conferring Mayor Emanuel with a Degree of Doctor of Laws – joining the likes of Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Cyril Ramaphosa, Enya, Anjelica Huston and Margaret Atwood – NUIG President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, noted that the cities of Galway and Chicago had been twinned for over 21 years.

“Since then a strong and dynamic relationship has developed bringing social, cultural, educational and economic benefits and reflecting the many personal and professional links between our two great cities.

“In honouring Mayor Emanuel, we as a university signal what we value. We recognise not only these ties which bind Galway and Chicago in our role as Galway’s university. We also signal the importance of public service, of acting locally with global impact, and of democracy, sanctuary and freedom – in the world and for the world.”

His visit to the Circle of Life Garden to commemorate organ donors follows the substantial contribution made by Galway/Chicago Sister Cities International to its creation four years ago.

He planted a Yew tree in honour of organ donors across the world during his visit, when he was accompanied by Freeman of Galway City and Senator for the Diaspora Billy Lawless, who is a co-chairman of the Chicago committee.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.