Frank Fahy wears a shiny golden chain with multiple loops around his neck. It's called the "Chain of Office," and each link represents a previous mayor of Galway, Ireland, the city he now serves as mayor. There are about 130 golden links.
Over the course of a brief visit on June 3 and 4, Menlo Park hosted Mr. Fahy, mayor of Menlo Park's first sister city. The sister city agreement with Galway, Ireland, was signed on May 19 when Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline visited Galway.
The two cities have longstanding ties. Menlo Park got its name from two Irish immigrant brothers who hailed from Menlough, a village that Mr. Fahy said is a suburb of Galway, Ireland. The brothers had a cattle ranch near where El Camino Real is now. In 1854 or 1855 they erected a gate at the entrance of their ranch with the words "Menlo Park" in honor of their hometown, according to the Menlo Park Historical Association.
While Galway is Menlo Park's first sister city, Menlo Park is Galway's ninth. Others include St. Louis, Milwaukee, Seattle and Chicago. Previously, Galway had opted to not take on any more sister cities, so the partnership started off as a "friendship agreement," Mr. Fahy said.
"Menlo Park is our newest sister, but the first with a historical connection," said Mr. Fahy.
Mr. Fahy himself speaks Gaelic and hails from the village of Menlough, and says his family has been there since the 1600s.
When asked what the residents of Menlo Park should know about Galway, Mr. Fahy responded that on one hand, Galway is an old city. Its charter began in 1484, he said. In other ways, though, it's a young city, he said, because it has a university, the National University of Ireland Galway, and attracts young people. Like Menlo Park, he said, it has become a hub for the medical technology industry.
Galway, Ireland, is also a festival city, said Mr. Fahy. The city has festivals for arts, poetry, food and even oysters.
During his tour of Menlo Park, he visited Oak Knoll School and toured Facebook. "I'm an avid Facebooker," he said.
Later, a reception was held at LB Steak restaurant in downtown Menlo Park, where the two mayors exchanged gifts and again signed the sister city agreement.