The Derry-born president of the Irish-American organization The Friendly Sons of St Patrick returned to the city this week to meet the Mayor of Derry, Colum Eastwood. Chris Donnelly was born and raised in Lisfannon Park in the Bogside and moved to the United States more than 20 years ago. Before moving to America, Mr Donnelly owned the Derby Bar on Great James’ Street. He is now a teacher in New Bedford, near Boston, where he lives. Mr Donnelly is a regular visitor to Derry with the Friendly Sons of St Patrick and attempts to promote stronger links between here and his adoptive city.
Speaking after a meeting with Derry’s Mayor, Mr Donnelly said there are many similarities between the city and New Bedford.
“New Bedford has a similar population to Derry and experiences some of the same problems. It had a textile industry which is now in decline.
It is also a similar distance from Boston as Derry is from Belfast and people in New Bedford often think that Boston gets everything, which is something people here can identify with.
“There are lessons Derry can learn from New Bedford and vice versa.
“We also have a small airport and are in the process of extending the runway,” he said.
Mr Donnelly also said he invited Councillor Eastwood to New Bedford for next year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“We have invited previous Derry Mayors over in the past and have strengthened links between our cities and I look forward to that continuing,” he explained.
He also said he regularly returns to his native city.
“I come to Derry often because I still have brothers and sisters here. I am also a good friend of Pat Ramsey, who grew up beside me, and his colleague, Sean Carr, who was also from the same street,” he added.