Irish mayor starts off St. Patrick's festivities in Barrington

St. Patrick's Day weekend began in an authentic way Thursday in Barrington with a visit from an Irish city's mayor.

Killarney Mayor Niall Kelleher, accompanied by Barrington Village President Karen Darch, concluded his busy day at McGonigal's Pub.

Irish dancers and Guinness pints were part of the festive atmosphere in an upper-level room in the downtown Barrington establishment.

Kelleher, whose tourist-heavy town is in County Kerry, received many reminders of home on his five-day trip. He last visited the Barrington area in 2009 before he was mayor.

"It amazes me the amount of people that I've met who have relatives from Kerry and in my constituency," he said. "It's unbelievable."

North Barrington attorney Andrew Kelleher Jr. was the conduit for the Killarney mayor's visit through the men's relationship as cousins. The 32-year-old Irish mayor was scheduled to depart today.

"You're running me ragged, man," Andrew Keller joked to his cousin during a reception at Barrington's White House. "He's dragging me all over Chicago."

Niall Kelleher began his day with Mass at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington and tour of the parish school. He then went around the village, accompanied by Darch and other officials, with stops including Barrington's public safety building on Northwest Highway, where the police and fire departments are headquartered.

"It was great to see and get perspective on how local government works here in Barrington," he said.

Barrington declared Thursday as Killarney Day in the village, which was duly noted on a message board with a green background off Main Street near the Metra station. Kelleher received a key to Barrington and a framed Killarney Day proclamation from Darch at the White House.

In turn, Kelleher presented to Darch a book on the people and places in Kerry by renowned Irish photographer Valerie O'Sullivan.

Killarney and Barrington now have a sister city relationship. Darch said residents in Barrington and Killarney will be encouraged to visit each other's town.

"It can be whatever the communities want to make it," she said.

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