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DkIT Honoured with General de Chastelain Visit

24 April 2023

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) were absolutely honoured to welcome General (Ret’d) John de Chastelain back to campus recently. The Institute renamed their library the de Chastelain Library in honour of General (Ret’d) John de Chastelain at an event back in 2019 which was attended at the time by General de Chastelain and his wife MaryAnn.

General de Chastelain was back on campus last week as guest of honour at an event held in the Institutes’ library which was attended by representatives from all aspects of the community. The highlight of the event was an unveiling of a beautiful print of a painting of Carlingford Lough by General de Chastelain which now proudly hangs in the reception of the library.

General de Chastelain was in Ireland to attend a conference in Belfast marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which took place in Queen’s University. On Good Friday 25 years ago, amid the announcement of a major diplomatic breakthrough were the three men responsible for negotiating the agreement, US Senator George Mitchell, former Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri and Canada’s former Ambassador to the United States, General John de Chastelain. On the occasion of the announcement of that political breakthrough, John de Chastelain’s most serious work was just beginning. As Chair of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, John would spend two years painstakingly and meticulously disarming paramilitary groups.

The recent event in DkIT was opened by Dr. Sheila Flanagan, Vice President for Academic Affairs & Registrar who welcomed all to the event and commented on the strong and enduring relationship between Canada and Ireland and in more recent years DkIT.

Dr Flanagan was followed by DkIT President, Dr Diarmuid O’ Callaghan who welcomed John de Chastelain,

“General de Chastelain and Mary Ann, I sincerely hope that returning to DkIT feels like a coming home. As Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, and one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, you are acutely aware of what peace in Northern Ireland means for a border town like Dundalk. Over the last couple of weeks, as the commemoration of the Good Friday Agreement took centre stage, we all got time to contemplate how far we have come in twenty-five years, and in the dark hours, consider what would have been, without the peace process.  General de Chastelain and Mary Ann, a sincere and heartfelt thank you from all of your DkIT friends, many who are here today, for your unwavering support for this region. You have devoted part of your life to bringing a seismic and positive change to this community, and as a mark of that commitment, we are truly privileged to have our library named in your honour and a copy of one of your paintings hang on its walls”.

During his keynote address, General de Chastelain said,

“I’m delighted to be back in DkIT, and I would again like to thank you for the extraordinary honour for this library to be named after MaryAnn and I. Dundalk has always been a haven for me during my time in Ireland and I always love coming back. The Peace Process was a difficult time, but it was made clear to me that all parties involved wanted it to work. It was a longer process than I initially expected but the privilege of peace and non-violence has lasted the test of time”.

The speeches ended with Robert Kearns, who is Chair and Founder of Canada Ireland Foundation, who took to the podium for a short address and to thank all those involved in this celebratory event. The speeches were followed by a haunting musical performance which was composed and performed by violinist Odhran O Casaide who is a final stage PhD music student in DkIT under supervision of Claire Fitch in the School of Informatics & Creative Arts

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