They brought out the big guns to kickstart the Gathering initiative in Cork yesterday.
A ceremonial 21-gun salute was fired at 1pm from Spike Island in Cork Harbour — one of just two fixed national saluting stations in Ireland.
It was the first official Gathering event in Cork and was the first national ceremonial 21-gun salute fired in Cork Harbour in almost three decades — the last one marked the arrival of the Tall Ships.
Soprano Cara O’Sullivan sang ‘Come Home Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff’ to echo the ceremony’s symbolic call to the diaspora to return to visit Cork at some stage in 2013.
Among those who attended were Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney; Lord Mayor John Buttimer; County Mayor Barbara Murray; TDs David Stanton and Jerry Buttimer; Mayor of Passage John Daly; county manager Martin Riordan; senior officers from the navy and army; and officials from Fáilte Ireland.
Mr Buttimer said he hoped it marked the start of what would be a hugely successful year for the tourism industry.
“But I would like to see the tourism agencies build a lasting legacy out of the Gathering in terms of improved tourism service, tourism infrastructure and deliver an economic spin- off,” he said.
The guns were fired by members of the 1st Southern Brigade Artillery Regiment from the recently restored saluting battery on the southern rampart of Spike Island.
Battery Commander Cmdt Adrian Keohane and Command Post Officer Lt Tim Cunningham ensured that the four guns, each with a three-person crew, fired 21 12-pounder blank ammunition rounds with a five second gap between each round.
So far, there are more than 220 events pledged on the gatheringireland.com website for Cork — the second highest number of events being planned nationally after Dublin.
Rebel Week, from Oct 14 to 20, will be the region’s keynote initiative.
Almost €1m has been invested in the country’s initiatives by stakeholders, including Cork city and county councils, Fáilte Ireland, and Cork Airport.
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