"The Gathering" in Ireland in 2013; their biggest tourism push ever coming soon
The good folks of Ireland have no shortage of story-lines to sell. Great cities like Dublin and Galway, fabulous golf courses, historic castles, an increasingly sophisticated food scene and, of course, the Irish people themselves.
Now, they're going that one better - or tens of thousands better - with their biggest tourism campaign ever. It's called The Gathering 2013, and it's invite for the 70 million members of the Irish diaspora around the world - plus anyone who's dreamed of going or wants to go again - to make the trip next year for what promises to be a wild time. And that's saying something.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, told a breakfast meeting in downtown Toronto today (Monday) that The Gathering is a community led initiative with more than 300 events already planned. Officials said those include everything from a gathering of female veterinarians to gatherings for twins and meetings of redheads. County Clare has invited anyone named Clare or Clair or Clara or anything similar to come on over for a good time.
Ireland Tourism and Sport Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland wants to "reconnect" with Irish folks around the world.
"Perhaps we didn't pay enough attention when things were going well" with the Irish economy, he said, but that's changing now.
Some 17 per cent of all folks in Ontario claim Irish heritage, officials said.
On top of meetings of Fitzgerald's and others of Irish heritage, Ireland tourism also is giving folks around the world a chance to apply to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin next year. And how much fun would that be?
I think I have a bit of Irish blood in me. But my wife is most definitely of Irish heritage, so when we went to Ireland for the first time a few years ago we traipsed about looking for O'Keefe's and Lonergans to chat with. We naturally found a bar with each name and met up with the owners and established a connection.
You'd think owners of these bars would get tired of Canadians and Americans and Aussies and others coming in and saying, "Hey, MY name is Fitzpatrick, too." But apparently they don't, as we were treated extremely well and had a ton of fun checking them out.
For more information, go to www.discoverireland.com or www.thegatheringireland.com.