Almost 200 events have been created in County Galway as part of The Gathering celebrations for 2013.
Among the 183 events currently listed on The Gathering website, www.thegatheringireland.com, are well-established events that are using the initiative to reconnect with past participants, such as the Renmore Pantomime, which runs until Sunday 13 January at Town Hall Theatre. It is hoped that many of those who starred in the famous pantomime across its 37-year history will return home to see it.
Many other events have been specifically organised for The Gathering in an effort to draw some of the 70 million-strong Irish diaspora back to Galway over the coming year.
As part of the Beo Schools’ Gathering, primary schools across Galway will hold ‘community nights’ where old stories will be recorded, photographs scanned and old films will be digitised for posterity. The aim is that these digital archives can then be enjoyed by the population of Ireland and members of the Irish Diaspora.
‘Ar Ais’ is an initiative undertaken in the Connemara and islands region, which will offer visitors heritage tours of the region, allowing them to sample the heritage, culture and archaeology of Connemara. Schools, colleges, Irish learner groups and conference groups are catered for as part of the ‘Ar Ais’ initiative.
According to Henry Healy of the Loughrea-based Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO), an official partner of The Gathering, the gatherings that have already taken place in Galway have been successful and those who have already visited Galway “can’t wait to return again”.
Mr Healy, who is best known as being US President Barack Obama’s cousin, said that Ireland XO were encouraged by the huge response the people of Galway have had to The Gathering.
“Galway is fortunate in that our communities have responded to organise these events over the year and the county has the largest amount of Gatherings planned in the West and third in the country overall,” he said.
“We know Galway has a reputation worldwide for being tourism friendly, so we would expect a strong percentage of 325,000 to come to Galway,” he added