Calls for diaspora to be part of ‘The Gathering 2013’ to boost tourism
A call has been made to Ireland's diaspora to come home to where the heart is.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged the 70 million people worldwide of Irish descent, and even those who just want a touch of Irishness, to make a trip to the Emerald Isle next year to be part of The Gathering 2013
Villages and towns in every county have been urged to stage events celebrating their history to attract their long lost emigrants for a holiday back home.
"This is actually a brilliant opportunity for the country to unite, north and south, in standing up to the economic challenge that we have," he said.
"We are calling now on every community, from city suburbs to rural villages, as well as clubs, associations and businesses to start thinking about how they might work together to develop events which celebrate their own unique stories and engage connections around the world."
The Gathering Ireland 2013 aims to be the biggest tourism event ever held in the country, bringing in 325,000 extra visitors and an additional €170m in revenue.
Traditional festivals, like a New Year's Eve Festival to mark the start of the year, will form the spine of celebrations.
Several clans - including the O'Deas of Co Clare, the Gallaghers of Donegal and Fitzgeralds of Co Limerick - are inviting their namesakes back to a gathering of their people.
Irish food, music and sports will also be celebrated, including a new show by Riverdance creators John McColgan and Moya Doherty which has been added to the bill to boost numbers.
International firms such as Google and Facebook, the Irish Farmers' Association and Scouting Ireland have got involved, while KPMG and PwC are also staging their international alumni events on Irish soil bringing 1,000 international visitors.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar invited the world to Ireland next year for the festival of festivals.
He said the response from people at home and abroad has been fantastic with ideas for events coming in every day through www.thegatheringireland.com.
"These range from family gatherings, school reunions and even a gathering of twins," he said.
"Towns and communities are also pitching in."