Richmond residents gather in Blarney
WHILE there's nothing unusual about communities meeting as a part of The Gathering, not many events have brought hundreds of neighbours together some 3,000 miles from home.
That is exactly what happened last week in Blarney, however, when over 180 residents of the small town of Richmond, Michigan, came to the Cork town as part of the year-long tourism initiative.
Don Kurylowicz runs a business in Richmond, which has a population of just over 5,000, and he decided to organise the visit in 2013, because this is the year of The Gathering.
The American group visited Blarney, taking in a tour of Blarney Castle and a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone. They also enjoyed a spot of retail therapy at the Blarney Woollen Mills.
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland's head of North America, said that North America is an important market for tourism to the island of Ireland and 2013 is shaping up to be a record year.
"Tourism Ireland is delighted that the people of Richmond, Michigan, decided to visit Ireland in this special year of The Gathering. For many of the group, it was their first time here and they were extremely impressed by the spectacular scenery, our rich heritage, as well as by the hospitality and friendliness of the people they met," she said.
"The Gathering Ireland has very much caught the imagination of American travellers - particularly those with Irish heritage. Since last year, The Gathering has been a major focus of all Tourism Ireland's promotions, to make Ireland a 'must visit' choice for a vacation in 2013, for both the Diaspora and non-Diaspora around the US."