Georgia visitors have Wexford on their minds
TWENTY NINE members of a US football club and their family members have just wound up a week's visit to the Model County, the first of many of its kind likely to come to our shores from the state of Georgia.
The visit by Tormenta FC has been three years in the making.
The initial seeds were sown when Wexford man Larry Byrne of Club Choice Ireland - a golf tour operator specialising in tailored vacations to the East & South East - visited Georgia Southern University to meet with two professors who were then pioneering a project about the connections between Savannah and Wexford.
In the intervening years this project has grown into the WEXSAV AXIS and this recent trip by the Tormenta FC youths team is the first tangible tourism initiative to develop as a result.
A total of 29 men, women and children from Savannah, Hilton Head Island and Statesboro flew into Dublin Airport where they were greeted by Tiernan Byrne, the managing director of Club Choice Ireland.
A full week's itinerary awaited the group which included a match against Bohemian FC and a trip to Croke Park.
The majority of the group's stay was based in Wexford where they trained and played matches against the Wexford FC teams.
When not on the soccer field, they were taken to see some of Wexford's top attractions including Ferns Castle, Vinegar Hill, Hook Lighthouse, The Dunbrody, Loftus Hall, with the tour culminating with a civic reception at the National Heritage Park.
They even found time for a beach training session at St Helen's Bay followed by some high-wire adventure at the newly-opened IOAC as well as a leisurely stroll around Kilmore Quay.
'We really believe that this is the first of many trips from the Georgia region of the US to Wexford,' said Tiernan.
'We've been delighted with the support we've received from our colleagues in Wexford County Council and the wider tourism industry.
'The reaction we've gotten from the Tormenta guys has been very exciting and we've big plans on building on this trip,' he said.
The US visitors were said to be very appreciative of the warm welcome they received.