Wonderful Memories Created on Trip to Sister City
BY COS BARNES
Special to The Pilot
We went; we saw; we conquered.
And we brought home the prize.
Elizabeth Schilling and 17 other supporters of Southern Pines' new alliance with sister city Newry, in Northern Ireland, traveled there last week to attend the 21st celebration of the Maidens of Mourne International Festival and cheer when Elizabeth was chosen the 2010 Maiden of Mourne.
Vying against 13 contestants, four of whom were Americans and the others who were from Ireland, Elizabeth, a 21-year-old art student from Sandhills Community College and the daughter of Justin and Kathy Schilling, of Vass, wowed the audience with her poise and appearance. She wore a vintage strapless gown of green accented with iridescent beading and lace when she was crowned and presented with a huge bouquet of flowers and other gifts. She was sponsored by the Balmoral Hotel, where the Saturday night banquet was held.
Jenna Woronoff, daughter of Fredanel and David Woronoff, was our teen representative and she, along with Katie Dinsmore, of Ireland, took part in all the activities the older girls enjoyed.
They were in a parade in Warren Point where they were introduced on stage, stayed overnight at the Boathouse Inn on the waterfront, and participated in a flurry of activities during the week, including attending a Friendship Club dance with senior citizens, touring the Mourne Mountains and visiting a Santa's workshop. They visited local shops, enjoyed Irish music and participated in a water competition. The younger girls braved a frigid temperature to "pond jump."
The candidates, along with the rest of us, attended the "Photos Across the Atlantic" exhibition, the brainchild of Denise Baker, art professor at Sandhills, at an afternoon reception.
"The teachers at Sandhills are fabulous," Elizabeth said. "They know exactly what they are doing." Elizabeth wants to sew and design for the theater. She worked for five years with the Sandhills Community Theater in the wardrobe department so she would like to take sewing courses to pursue this dream. She did all the costumes for "Much Ado About Nothing," which was staged at The O'Neal School last year. She is skilled in art. One specialty is graphite drawings.
We were treated royally at a luncheon attended by Mick Murphy, mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council, and some of his councilors. They serve a nine-year term with one year as mayor after the first four. We had supper with Carol, the mayor's wife, and several of us were guests at a lecture about the Bessbrook linen mills, and tours of the Nautilas Center in Kilkeel and the Bagenal's Castle dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The group stayed at Hanna's Close in updated farm cottages with fireplaces, "where the mountains meet the sea." It was a pastoral setting with rolling hills inhabited by cows and sheep. Perfect hand thrown rock fences reached to the sky. It was quiet and serene.
"The rural countryside was breathtaking, and the historical landscape was just like you see on a postcard," Elizabeth Schilling told me.
We did venture from this idyllic scene for excursions to the Giants Causeway, to the walled city of Londonderry. The braver members of the group hiked the Slieve Martin, led by an 80-year-old who was as spry as a 35-year-old, and three of our party played golf on three different courses.
The people were just as I had pictured them in my mind. They all seemed to smile, which accented their rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes.
When I told one acquaintance he fit that description, he said, "It is the Guinness."
Cos Barnes is a Southern Pines writer.
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