Planning for The Gathering 2013 in Limerick gathers momentum

Norma Prendivile

Reporter:

Norma Prendivile

PASSION and enthusiasm were the hallmarks of Limerick’s first Gathering 2013 meeting which was attended by almost 200 people earlier this month.

PASSION and enthusiasm were the hallmarks of Limerick’s first Gathering 2013 meeting which was attended by almost 200 people earlier this month.

And although the Limerick Gathering steering committee is still sifting through the suggestions made at that meeting, committee chairman Donal Fitzgibbon has now revealed some of the original ideas thrown up.

Among them are an International Limericks Festival, a 35th anniversary reunion of players who participated in the famous Munster versus All Blacks game, a Church Music Festival, a Water Festival on the River Shannon, a West Limerick Harvest Fest, and an Irish College for Adults which would be a matchmaking event.

Other suggestions were a rowing event between Limerick city’s two main bridges, a walking tour of Limerick incorporating culture, food, history and music and a loyalty discount card for overseas visitors. Twinning GAA clubs with overseas clubs, and an International Dragons’ Den style event bringing importers and exporters together were other ideas.

“We are delighted with the outcomes from the public meeting and the genuine passion and enthusiasm that were evident on the night,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. But ideas without back-up are no use. “What we now need is for people to go ahead and start planning their events and make contact with overseas friends, relations, neighbours and anybody interested in coming to Limerick in 2013.

“We are asking all groups/individuals who are planning events, no matter how large or small they may be, to submit details as a Calendar of Events for 2013 is currently being prepared. This Calendar will be a key promotions and marketing tool for Limerick for the year of The Gathering.”

As Mr Fitzgibbon explained to the Limerick Leader The Gathering isn’t necessarily about organising major events. “It could be a team reunion, a class reunion, it could be a formal festival. The whole idea is you are bringing people back to this country, to share in something that is going on. And we want the ideas to come from the communities.”

Already, the calendar is beginning to fill up. Murroe, Glenroe, Kilbehenny and Lough Gur/Knockainey have all organised Weeks of Welcome and a number of festivals have also been flagged including a musicians reunion in Newcastle West.

The Gathering is one of the single biggest tourism initiatives ever undertaken in this country and the target is to attract an additiona 350,000 visitors in 2013. But it is also an opportunity to reach out to the 70-million strong Irish diaspora, a great many of whom would welcome an opportunity to contribute and to help Ireland in its current economic difficulty.

Fionan Nestor, a member of the national co-ordinating team has urged people not to underestimate the power of the personal approach, of the personal invitation to come “home”.

A further Gathering meeting will be held at a Limerick City venue during October, Mr Fitzgibbon told the Limerick Leader.

“We hope to focus on a number of headline events during the year and the Steering Group is continuing to work through all the suggestions that have been received to date. Our key task is to mobilise and drive The Gathering throughout Limerick by engaging, planning and coordinating community-based activity,” he added. Already the Limerick calendar is

In Co Limerick the co-ordinator is Mary Killeen-Fitzgerald who can be contacted at 061-496400. Lisa RUttle can also be contacted by email at lruttle@limerickcoco.ie

For further information visit www.thegatheringireland.com and click into the Limerick page. You can also follow The Gathering Limerick on Twitter @thegatheringlk or Facebook on www.facebook.com/TheGatheringLimerick