A call has been made to Ireland’s diaspora to come home to where the heart is.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged the 70m people worldwide of Irish descent, and even those who just wanted a touch of Irishness, to make a trip to the Emerald Isle next year to be part of The Gathering 2013.
Villages and towns in every county have been urged to stage events celebrating their history to attract long-lost emigrants for a holiday back home.
“This is actually a brilliant opportunity for the country to unite, north and south, in standing up to the economic challenge that we have,” he said.
“We are calling now on every community, from city suburbs to rural villages, as well as clubs, associations and businesses, to start thinking about how they might work together to develop events which celebrate their own unique stories and engage connections around the world.”
The Gathering Ireland 2013 aims to be the biggest tourism event ever held in the country, bringing in 325,000 extra visitors and an additional €170m in revenue.
Traditional festivals, such as a New Year’s Eve Festival, will form the spine of celebrations.
Several clans — including the O’Deas of Co Clare, the Gallaghers of Donegal, and Fitzgeralds of Co Limerick — are inviting their namesakes back to a gathering of their people.
Irish food, music, and sports will also be celebrated, including a new show by Riverdance creators John McColgan and Moya Doherty.
International firms such as Google and Facebook, and organisations such as the Irish Farmers’ Association and Scouting Ireland have got involved, while KPMG and PwC are also staging their international alumni events on Irish soil bringing 1,000 international visitors.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar invited the world to Ireland next year for thefestival of festivals.
He said the response from people at home and abroad has been fantastic with ideas for events coming in every day through thegatheringireland.com.
“These range from family gatherings, school reunions and even a gathering of twins,” he said.
“Towns and communities are also pitching in.”
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