Gathering momentum: forget the shakedown, here's the breakdown
As Council of State member Sally Mulready explains, the concept of supporting Ireland financially during challenging economic times is not an unfamiliar one for older Irish emigrants, many of whom would send home cash to family during previous recessions.
Mulready moved to London in the 1970s and is now director of the Irish Elder Advice Network. She is bringing four groups of 35 elderly Irish people from around the UK on trips to Dublin to coincide with the Gathering this year.
“The visit is targeted at people who left Ireland in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, particularly those from rural Ireland who never really got to see Dublin,” she says.
“They may have travelled home to visit down through the years but might have gone straight back to where their family were, rather than taking the time to see the historical sights in the capital.”
Hunter-gatherer: Coming home to network
Declan O’Reilly, an online publisher and photojournalist who has been living in Melbourne for 11 years, is bringing his wife and two Australian-born daughters Kalina (11) and Róisín (8) to Ireland for their first ever visit this summer (pictured right).
Since he came across a documentary online about the Gathering a few months ago, the family have been planning their upcoming trip around the various festivals and events taking place while they are here, including the Fleadh Cheoil Chonnacht, the Ennis Street Festival and the Kinsale Arts Festival.
O’Reilly’s wife has Irish ancestry, which they are also hoping to research, but the most important aspect of the visit, O’Reilly says, will be building networks at these events with the arts community in Ireland. The family hope to return to live in Ireland permanently in the coming years, and such networks will be important to them, he says.
“The Gathering has prompted us to investigate all the events that are planned, but also to appreciate the importance and the need for gatherings for those who have emigrated,” O’Reilly says. “I think it is an excellent initiative, and if it helps the local economy as well it can only be a good thing.”
Riverdance Festival, Dublin: Workshops and masterclasses will take place over three days. Date to be confirmed
The Gathering Cruise, Dún Laoghaire, Kinsale and Dingle: A flotilla of 100 yachts will visit from the UK . July 17th to August 1st
GAA International Tournament, Dublin: International football, ladies football and camogie tournaments will take place in Croke Park. July 25th-27th
Cork Jazz Festival: Over 1,000 international music students will descend on Cork for this jazz weekend. October 25th-29th
Meet to Compete, Dublin: Teams from the US, Canada, UK and Europe will compete in 25 basketball, baseball, cricket and soccer tournaments taking place throughout the year.
Wild Geese Network of Irish Scientists, Dublin: A meeting and collaboration of science, technology and engineering professionals. November 13th
Manchester-Mayo Gathering, Mayo: A festival of culture and sport celebrating the connection of Mayo and Levenshulme, home to the UK’s biggest Mayo emigrant community. August 1st - 9th
Gathering of the Clans, south Kerry: Inaugural year of an annual festival . August 24th-31st