“The Gathering gives each and every one of us an opportunity to do something positive for our country in our own unique way.”
Speaking at the launch today in Dublin Castle, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste also urged businesses, clubs and organisations right across the country to get involved in The Gathering.
An Taoiseach said:
This initiative needs the widespread participation of communities and local organisations all across Ireland. The Gathering gives each and every one of us an opportunity to do something positive for our country in our own unique way.
It’s all about you, your family, your neighbours, your sports club, your college. Whatever community or group you belong to, we would like you to start planning special events to highlight what is great about that community, and about Ireland.
The Tánaiste explained that the global Irish diaspora will also be crucial:
The Gathering aims to engage with our global diaspora, to entice them to come home in 2013 and to encourage them to extend an invitation to Ireland to others. It’s not just about encouraging anyone with Irish heritage – it is also addressed to those who love or have an interest in Ireland.
The Gathering Ireland 2013 is being spearheaded by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar, who outlined a series of new festivals and events being held especially in order to encourage more visitors to Ireland next year. These include a new music festival, international GAA events and a new project from the organisers of Riverdance.
Minister Varadkar said:
We are inviting the world to Ireland next year for this festival of festivals. It promises to be the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland. I want The Gathering to be an event that belongs to everyone in Ireland, and which everyone in Ireland feels part of. If you want help organising your own Gathering, then log on to the new Gathering website at thegatheringireland.com to take advantage of all the available supporting material. The public response from people at home and abroad has been fantastic with ideas for potential gatherings coming in every day. These range from family Gatherings, school reunions and even a gathering of twins. Towns and communities are also pitching in. The Gathering team are receiving queries and offers of help from individuals and organisations throughout the world.
Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring announced that Gathering Community Meetings will be held around Ireland in the year ahead. Local Gathering organisations are being set up in every county, comprising sporting bodies, cultural and musical organisations, local authorities, and local development companies. Minister Ring said:
This is a people’s project. It is extremely important that this initiative is not confined to big cities but is an event that will happen across the country and show off Ireland at its best. Everyone can help by doing something as simple as sending an e-mail or postcard to a relative or friend abroad inviting them to Ireland in 2013.
Community projects already underway include clan gatherings, genealogical projects, and an outreach initiative where local communities will contact people who have left the country. One Irish family which recently returned from the US is already organising an O’Dea clan gathering for 2013.
Kerry and Waterford County Councils have established dedicated local groups to drive the initiative forward and all local authorities have been briefed on The Gathering. Carrick-on Shannon is holding a special town and community gathering to celebrate its 400th birthday next year.
The Gathering was launched internationally by Government Ministers in 27 cities over St Patricks Weekend, and the project team and corporate partners are now firmly in place. A number of well-known Irish personalities have pledged their support, including Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Maeve Binchy and Paul O’Connell.
A large number of companies and organisations have already got involved including Google and Facebook, while KPMG and PwC have confirmed they will hold their international alumni events in Ireland, bringing 1,000 international visitors.
Speaking at the launch today in Dublin Castle, Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland emphasised:
The Gathering has the potential to be a real ‘game-changer’ not just for Irish Tourism but also for Ireland as a whole. The real power of the Gathering lies in its ability to leverage the efforts of any Irish citizen, community group or indeed any diaspora member to roll up their sleeves and take an active part in mobilising behind an initiative to support our national recovery. With a fair wind, many of the seeds planted through events and initiatives at local level all around the nation, will bloom into longer term beneficial networks and opportunities for the country.
A calendar of significant festivals and events will form the spine of The Gathering year, and the aim is to foster a multitude of grass-roots events around these festivals. This calendar is constantly evolving and will see many established festivals being significantly enhanced:
• New Year’s Eve Festival
• St Patrick’s Festival
• Galway Arts Festival and Wexford Opera Festival, Cork Choral Festival, Dublin Horse, Bloom and Temple Bar Tradfest
A number of new festivals and events will also be created exclusively for the Gathering. Discussions are currently taking place around the following:
- An International Harvest Gathering – a celebration of Irish food;
- love:live music, International Music Day;
- A new International GAA event with finals held in Croke Park in August;
- A Festival of Football: overseas clubs and players will compete in matches around Ireland;
- Bringing Riverdance back home and introducing John McColgan and Moya Doherty’s new show;
- A multi-venue Christmas 2013 and New Year’s Festival to end the year with a bang.