Bid to build centre in Limerick for Irish emigrants

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

limerick is preparing to bid for the right to build a major centre, which would serve as a hub for emigrants returning here.

limerick is preparing to bid for the right to build a major centre, which would serve as a hub for emigrants returning here.

With Ireland set to see an increase in tourism next year due to The Gathering initiative, it is hoped that because of the strong links Limerick has with the original ‘Diaspora’, it will be able to benefit.

Failte Ireland has invited cities to bid to win a contract for a Diaspora resource centre - which would include a museum on emigration from the country.

Now, a top level group - including the county’s economic head Tom Enright and Eoghan Prendergast of Shannon Development - have held meetings with Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar on the issue, ahead of a deadline for bids next Friday, November 9.

Documents released by the government state that a centre is being mooted due to “the growing international interest in ancestry and genealogy and the fact that for many decades Ireland has been a county from which people emigrated”.

They added the centre “must serve not only as a focus for those with an interest in the Diaspora, but importantly it must in its form and function serve as an attraction contributing to the further development of tourism.”

Local Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, who is on the committee, says a centre would provide a “magnet” to tourism here.

City councillor John Gilligan last week suggested Limerick is the true home of ‘The Gathering’ due to the fact the original emigrants were from the 1691 Siege of Limerick.

It was also pointed out

Mr O’Donnell said: “I am pleased at the pace of progress to date. This is a major national and international designation, and once the consultants are appointed, it will take some time for them and the government to consider the project fully. We look forward to engaging fully with the consultants once they are appointed, it will take some time for them and the government to consider the project fully.”

Mr O’Donnell says the opening of a Diaspora centre here would be the ideal “legacy project” for the county.

“It would reflect the pioneering spirit that served the region so well in the early days of Shannon, which had a pivotal relationship with the Diaspora over the decades and the location of the Irish Global Diaspora Centre here in Limerick would be the ideal legacy project for the city, allowing us to take our place at the heart of the Diaspora,” he said.

He added: “I believe central to the Gathering in Limerick should be a bid to bring the Irish Diaspora centre to Limerick.”

A decision will be made on the scheme by November 30. If Limerick wins, work will commence in February next.

A number of other cities are to bid for the contract.