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Flag raised in San Jose City Hall in honor of Silicon Valley-Ireland connection

This year marks the 100th anniversary of official diplomatic relations between the United States and Ireland.

It’s become an important cultural and business connection, with Silicon Valley playing a key role.

There was a traditional ceremony at San Jose City Hall Tuesday, often viewed as routine among governments. But the flag raising symbolized so much more about the relationship between San Jose, Silicon Valley, and the Irish.

“We have an awful lot to learn from San Jose. We have ‘Silicon Docks’ so most of the EU headquarters of the big tech companies are located in Dublin,” said Dublin Lord Mayor Daithi de Roiste. “Ireland being the only English-speaking country of the European Union, we provide that platform into Europe.”

“Ireland has emerged as a tech hub in Western Europe, just as San Jose is the capitol of Silicon Valley and so we see a growing amount of economic exchange,” said Mayor Matt Mahan. “We see talent flow both ways. Even our universities have a partnership.”

The San Jose mayor who started the sister city connection is Tom McEnery — a proud Irish American who points out the man who should get much of the credit is Irish political leader John Hume. 

Hume won a Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent civil rights movement in the 60s, and was a frequent visitor to San Jose. 

So much so, McEnery wrote the intro to Hume’s book “A New Ireland.”

“He had great involvement with San Jose in economic development. The ‘Seagate’ company went over there and provided jobs to people who had never had jobs before,” said McEnery.

And the connection isn’t all business. The Irish delegation is meeting with some of San Jose’s top artistic groups to help Dublin boost its cultural scene.

“We have got Symphony San Jose, Opera San Jose, San Jose Stage, San Jose Jazz and San Jose Museum of Art, and we’re meeting tomorrow at the Hammer Theater,” said Pam Kelly, president of the San Jose Dublin Sister City Program.

The San Jose-Dublin connection will be seen in a couple of upcoming local events.

The biggest fundraiser for the sister city program will be the Shamrock 5K and 10K Run which will take place March 16 — the day before everyone’s Irish holiday Saint Patrick’s Day.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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