The Gathering gives tourism a major boost in 2013
In December 2012, just a few weeks before the Government-backed year-long 'Gathering' tourism initiative was due to get under way, Ryanair boss MichaelO'Leary labelled it 'The Grabbing'.
At a major aviation conference in Dublin, he claimed that airport, bus and rail charges were being raised just as the event was poised to get under way.
He told the bemused delegates -- who had travelled from around the world -- that the national conference centre was a white elephant. "For those of you who are visiting this country and want to realise why we are broke, you're sitting in it," he said.
'The Gathering' was a big success, though. A number of additional summer services between the US and Ireland were laid on by airlines. Tourism traffic received a big boost, as did services businesses around the country, aided by a 9pc VAT rate.
At the end of November, the Central Statistics Office said the number of visitors to Ireland had increased 7.3pc between January and October, with the numbers from North America 14.6pc higher. The number of British visitors to Ireland was up 5.1pc, while from mainland Europe the figure was 5.6pc higher.