Last Tuesday, September 25 saw a gathering at Kilashee House Hotel to discuss The Gathering, the year-long celebration of Ireland, its people at home and abroad.
The Kilashee meeting brought together well over 100 people from the politcal, tourism, business, community and voluntary sectors in Kildare to discuss what sort of events would be run in the county throughout the course of the year.
The emphasis of The Gathering is to link Ireland with the 70 million people around the world who claim Ireland as their ancestral home.
Organisers of the Gathering promise that it will be “the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland”.
Locals all over the country are being encouraged to create local gatherings and invite connections abroad to come and visit Ireland in 2013.
It is hoped to be a positive for our country and to help stimulate local industries.
There are, organisers explained, two main types of events. The first is events, big and small, which involve getting Irish people to come home.
The second will involved hundreds of festivals and events throughout Ireland that celebrate the best in Irish music, art, literature, dance, culture, heritage, sport, film and food.
The first such event was the American football bout between Notre Dame and the Navy held in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium at the start of last month.
The facilitated meeting last Tuesday night saw everyone from the President of NUI Maynooth to local councillors, to tourism professionals to community and voluntary organisers.
They were broken up into approximately a dozen working groups who were asked to come up with ideas, to present those ideas to the rest and most importantly, to take ownership of their ideas.
With Kildare’s long and varied history it’s not surprising that ideas that involve the military, well known families, the Quakers, the equine industry all came to the fore.
There was an idea for a military tattoo, a Fitzgerald family re-union, a re-imagining of the Quaker village and a literary festival in Maynooth.
But then there were smaller, more intimate events, such as inviting anyone who ever left Clane to come back for a re-union.
Speaking at the end, President of NUI Maynooth Philip Nolan said that the college would do what it could to support initiatives, such as making facilities available.
He noted that at the heart of all of the suggestions was the simple idea of inviting people home.
Support was also promised from Kildare Leader Partnership and Kildare County Council.
- Conor McHugh