Irish diaspora websites clash
Riverdance promoter John McColgan, who launched a new social media website called worldirish.com at the Global Irish Forum at Dublin Castle last Friday, is not the first to have the idea.
Although the publicity around the McColgan launch neglected to mention it, another website servicing the Irish diaspora around the world already exists.
IrishCentral.com, founded in March 2009 by the New York-based publisher Niall O'Dowd, is up and running and highly developed.
Like an Irish version of the Huffington Post, it offers comprehensive news, sport, comment, entertainment, business, culture, video, blogs, lifestyle features, online forums and an online Irish community.
Updated around the clock, it is already well established as the go-to site for the extended Irish family around the world and particularly in the US, where 40 million people claim Irish roots.
In contrast with this, Mr McColgan's worldirish.com is at the start-up stage, offering a limited online service so far.
A visit to the two sites clearly shows that IrishCentral is far out in front. It already has 71,000 email subscribers and 700,000 unique visitors a month.
It is the largest Irish Diaspora website, with traffic growing at around 30pc a year.
Mr O'Dowd, publisher of the 'Irish Voice' newspaper in the US, is well known among powerful Irish Americans because of the key role he played in the Northern Ireland peace process, getting former US President Bill Clinton involved.
Advertisers on IrishCentral include Coca Cola, Jameson, Guinness, Continental Airlines, Aer Lingus and Tourism Ireland. None of this was mentioned in reports at the weekend of the high profile launch of Mr McColgan's Worldirish.com.
Mr McColgan said his site would bring together Irish-centred social media content from other websites including Twitter and Facebook to create an online Irish community.
It would serve as a gateway to Irish culture, business, tourism and sporting sectors, he said.
Reports said that Mr McColgan came up with the idea at the last Farmleigh Global Irish Forum event in September 2009.
The timing is interesting because Mr O'Dowd, a participant in the Farmleigh event in September 2009, had already launched his IrishCentral.com site six months earlier.
Apart from Mr McColgan, worldirish.com is backed by Dermot Desmond, Denis O'Brien and entrepreneur of the year Terry Clune of Taxback.com. The company is headed up by Irish internet pioneer Michael Branagan.
John Spain writes a blog which appears on IrishCentral.com