ENERGY and enthusiasm were the hallmarks of an open meeting called in Limerick city this week to prepare for the Limerick Gathering 2013.
“There was a great mix of people, between business people, sports people and community,” Donal Fitzgibbon, chairman of the steering committee which covers both city and county, enthused. “There was a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm.”
The committee decided to hold a meeting in the city, following the success of a meeting in Adare in September. “We wanted to give anyone else who had ideas for The Gathering a chance to make their suggestions,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Some 130 people attended Tuesday’s meeting in the Strand Hotel where Limerick manager Con Murray and Fionan Nestor of the national Gathering steering committee spoke.
Participants then broke into groups of ten with a facilitator for a brain-storming session. The ideas which emerged from this session will be examined in detail over the coming weeks and followed up.
The key ingredient, according to Mr Fitzgibbon, is to have a group or a community organisation ready and willing to back the idea with action.
The Walls of Limerick, the Abbey river and the Shannon river were cited by participants as some of the best things about Limerick at Tuesday’s meeting and suggestions were made as to how best to incorporate them as part of The Gathering.
Suggestions which are already in the pot include an International Limericks Festival, a 35th anniversary reunion of players who participated in the famous Munster versus All Blacks game, a Church Music Festival and a Water Festival on the River Shannon. Over 800 events have already been organised nationally for The Gaterhing and over 40 of these, so far, are in Limerick.
“We will be having some headline events,” Mr Fitzgibbon explained. These events are likely to be county and city wide and will be linked to the Limerick name.
But a key element to the success of the Gathering, Mr Fitzgibbon stressed, will be the smaller, more local events: the class or school reunions, the team reunions and the parish get-togethers.
“This is an opportunity to energise local communities,” he enthused. And he urged local groups to continue to take on board the crucial message behind the Gathering i.e. to ask people to come back, to return to the homeland for a visit.
“At the end of the day, the real success will come from the communities,” he said. “That is where the real passion is.” A calendar of all events in Limerick is being compiled. People in the county should contact Mary Killeen Fitzgerald at 061-496400 or Deirdre Minogue in the city at 061-407309.