Drogheda had the honor of being the first port of call outside Dublin for the Turkish ambassador, when he paid a whirlwind visit to the city on Monday.
His Excellency Mr. Mehmet Hakan Olcay was appointed to the post earlier in 2021, however, due to COVID restrictions and other duties, has been unable to travel outside the capital so far.
“Due to the special relationship between Turkey and Drogheda, I wanted to start here, but my planned cultural visit last year was canceled due to COVID,” Ambassador Olcay said. “Drogheda is very special to us – there is a historical link between Turkey and Ireland – and I’m really impressed to see so many Turks living here.
“I felt at home here in Drogheda.”
Legend has it that the Turkish sultan sent provisions and financial aid to Ireland during the time of the famine, with ships landing at the port of Drogheda.
His Excellency took a city tour, visiting Eli College – an English language school with a large Turkish population – the Drogheda Museum, Millmount, Boann Distillery, Council Chambers, St. Peter’s Church and finally a visit home of Drogheda Uni,
“I was delighted to see that there were 50 students in the college which is more than in Dublin and there are many links with industry – Waterwipes has a small factory in Turkey and the distillery will supply gin and whiskey,” the ambassador added. “I also met a doctor and a dentist from Turkey, and of course there are close ties between Drogheda United and Trabzonspor, and Turkish Airlines also sponsors the shirts.”
The Ambassador was warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Drogheda Michelle Hall in the council chamber, who presented Her Excellency with a plaque from the viaduct, roses and McCloskey’s batch bread!
“We are very grateful for your visit, and we like to put Drogheda on the map, because we all think it is a great city, and we like to spread the word and establish the city as the gateway to the valley of the Boyne,” Mayor Hall said. “We are a prime location with a talented workforce, and would welcome industry and business to the city.”
The ambassador is keen to reinvigorate efforts to twin Drogheda and the resort town of Kuşadası on Turkey’s western Aegean coast, which stalled in 2019.
“Three years ago, there is a large Irish community in Kuşadası, we had completed all the procedures to establish the sister city agreements, but here the Louth County Council did not take an active decision”, said the ambassador. “Now there is a new mayor, I hope we can see that happen, and that would establish strong relations between the two countries, not only culturally, but also sporting and industrial.”