THE Gathering is the marketing centrepiece of the Irish tourism industry in 2013 with 1,150 events -- large and small -- already planned.
Many of the country's best-known events are organising special elements to tie in with The Gathering.
Eight thousand members of the Irish diaspora and foreign visitors are expected to march in Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade while organisers of the Rose of Tralee Festival have invited all the contestants who took part in the pageant since 1959 to a reunion.
Smaller-scale, community-organised events are also being held throughout the country, including "clan" reunions of Gallaghers in Donegal and Fitzgeralds in Limerick.
With an estimated 70 million Irish diaspora around the world, the target is to bring 325,000 extra visitors next year. Numbers are expected to be greatest from such emigrant strongholds as the US, Canada, Australia and Britain.