May 14, 1994.
Its official - the town of Abbeyleix has found a town in France.
The spokesman for the visiting French delegation in Abbeyleix at the weekend confirmed that the twinning of Abbeyleix and Fougerolles du Plessis would get underway immediately.
Monsieur Roger Lestas, who is mayor of Fougerolles du Plessis, said that the official ceremonies would take place in May 1995 in France and in Abbeyleix in June. The Irish Ambassador to France would attend both launching ceremonies.
And now the members of the Abbeyleix Town Twinning Committee are planning a return visit to France in September of this year.
Fougerolles du Plessis is an important parish and part of Laniny which is situated in the department of Mayenne on the border of the two regions of Maine and Normandy. It covers 3,300 hectares and has a population of 1,750.
It is an ideal walking area with its magnificent 18th century chateau and also its chateau of Clairefontaine.
But the magnificent beauty of Laois was not lost on the eight strong delegation who were in Abbeyleix at the invitation of Abbeyleix Town Twinning Committee led by Michael Lynch (chairman), Catherine Hutchinson (secretary) and Yvonne Murphy. They took in Heywood Gardens and De Vesci Estate, before a reception in the Hibernian Hotel hosted by Abbeyleix Committee where they were well entertained.
Before leaving, M. Lestas, who is also vice-president of the French/Irish Society, said how very touched they had been by the warmth of the reception they had received and how very impressed they had been by the town of Abbeyleix.
It was, he said, a most picturesque, attractive and well laid out town.