By Jim Lewis, who helped organize the visit by the Galway, Ireland, officials.
The mayor of Galway, Ireland, Donal Lyons, stopped by Menlo Park on March 10-11, at the invitation of Menlo Park Mayor Catherine Carlton. Mayor Lyons was accompanied by Galway Chief Executive (similar to city manager) Brendan McGrath.
The visit was in conjunction with a friendship agreement signed by the two cities in 2013.
While here, Mayor Lyons saw city hall, the downtown area, Facebook, several local business, and attended a reception and lunch at Left Bank restaurant in Menlo Park.
During the March 10 City Council meeting, Mayor Carlton presented a proclamation to Mayor Lyons that explains the connection between the two cities.
The proclamation noted that in 1853, two Irish immigrants from Galway, Ireland, traveled to California and bought a ranch of approximately 1,700 acres. They named the ranch Menlo Park after their home town of Menlough near Galway. They posted that name on a large wooden gate with tall arches.
About 10 years later, the railroad established a train station near the ranch and upon seeing the sign named the rail stop Menlo Park. The village and later city of Menlo Park grew up around that station.
Over the years, Menlo Park mayors have traveled to Galway, most recently Peter Ohtaki, who said Galway rolled out the green carpet for him.
Galway, with a population of about 75,000, is home to the European headquarters of Hewlett-Packard and other multi-national companies.
While here, Mayor Lyons and Mr. McGrath had lunch at the Palo Alto headquarters Hewlett-Packard, which displayed the Irish flag in the lobby.
What does the future hold for the friendship pact between Galway and Menlo Park? There are efforts underway to link up schools, through pen pal relationships and perhaps classroom-to-classroom video conferencing sessions, and maybe a student exchange program.
Click here for more information on the friendship pack and the Two Menlos group that helps promote it.
Jim Lewis is co-chair of Two Menlos, a group that is part of the Menlo Park Historical Association.
See more photos on Photo Galley.