David McWilliams: Harnessing diaspora will help us rebuild economy
A couple of days after the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh last year, I received a call from Galway-based technology entrepreneur Mike Feerick. This man had an extraordinary idea. Instead of waiting, he said, for Irish Americans and the like to come back to Ireland to trace their roots, how about we go the other way?
How about we organise and enable, using the latest online communications and database tools and resources, local Irish communities at a townland, village and parish level to find out who was born in their area, where they went, and trace them and their descendants worldwide?
That way, he suggested, we could systematically reunify our entire diaspora, creating "virtual communities", expanding each local parish beyond its own physical boundaries and allowing them reach out across the world?