C’mere and we’ll let you in on something. We’re planning something big. BIG big.
Something country-wide, year-long, larger and more ambitious than anything we’ve done before. We’re just trying not to focus on the clean-up.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us be the first to invite you to The Gathering. We’re giving you plenty of notice – five months – as the party actually begins a minute after midnight on January 1st 2013. And it’ll run for an entire year. It’ll require the total breadth of a country as the venue, and a whole population to host it. As we said, BIG big.
Pierce Brosnan describes it as a year where we “celebrate what it is to be Irish”. Of course, we already know – we just want you to know, too.
That’s where people like Niamh Gallagher come in. In 2007, Niamh’s Global Gallagher Gathering broke the previous record for biggest number of people with the same surname attending a clan gathering. You may have seen it on ABC news. She recalls;
A great buzz developed leading up to the event. We had the media discussing whether certain celebrities might attend. We had an international television crew coming to cover the event. The first few to arrive were from such places as Brazil, British Columbia, Canada and Australia. All this woke locals up to the fact that this really was a “global” gathering.
Topping a Guinness World Record is a tall order. But top it she, and all the other Gallaghers, no doubt will when they stage another epic reunion in September 2013. Of course this time around, the Gallagher clan will be riding on the wave of The Gathering 2013, which hopes to bring the Irish community and those with Irish heritage to Ireland for the afore-mentioned massive shindig.
For actor and Antrim man Liam Neeson, no link is necessary;
Whether you’re first, second generation Irish or even with no connection to Ireland, you should visit in 2013 for a unique experience.
Think of it as a citizen-led initiative: ‘think not what the Gathering will do for you…’ etc. Every Irish person will offer a slice of hospitality in their own way (even if that slice is actual cake… which gets my personal approval). Niamh Gallagher is certainly doing her bit:
Our gathering in 2013 is in response to requests from those who were here in 2007 to have another. We already have people in Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, USA and South Africa (to name a few places) planning on coming once more… and bringing friends and family this time!
Some people, like Niamh, will go for the blockbuster clan reunion – inviting everyone with the same surname, from all corners of the world, to meet and break bread, sing songs or dance in the street. And not necessarily in that order. The O’Deas are another resilient reunited clan. In 2011, over 170 of them from across the globe came to Ennis for a clan gathering. I wonder whether the guys in Immigration mused over their coffee break on the spike in O’Deas coming off the planes that day?
The Gathering will mean a different thing to every person, town and community in Ireland. But it will mean something to all of them. After all, a party invitation, extended to some 70 million people with Irish connections was always going to be promising. Is that the sound of our knees trembling at the huge scale of it all? No, no. That’s blogger David toasting to his coup in securing his Norwegian girlfriend’s family to visit next year. Just make sure to have the hair cut first, yeah David?
The ideas are flying all over the place: vet reunions, star gazing, and family gatherings were thrown out at the first community meeting for The Gathering in Roscommon in June. They certainly set the bar.
These meetings are dotting community noticeboards around the country in the next few months, as parishes and villages sit down and bang their heads together over what they can do for their gathering. Somewhere, there is a mayor tapping a whiteboard with ‘who would we invite?’, ‘where would we show them?’ and ‘what would we put on?’ written on it. I wager there’s at least one Irish mammy raising her hand and suggesting ‘fresh scones’. An excellent start we think.
There are solid plans afoot. Besides the street parties and tea parties, there’s also the convenient fact that there’s always a festival around the bend in Ireland. We have festivals for walking, racing, families, foodies and flowers. Expect bunting, dancing, eating, singing and laughing. The year of The Gathering 2013 will still mean big, glitzy fireworks and blockbusters festivals. But they’ll be bigger.
As Niamh Gallagher says;
2013 is just the beginning – a template for the future. And we can do this while having fun and giving enjoyment to others.
Ok, now we officially have goosebumps.
The bottom line is even if you have the biggest, briefest or a no connection at all with Ireland, you can expect some kind of invitation to come your way in the next few months for 2013.
Consider this your first.