INVITING people to trace their Tipperary roots, a choir festival, food festivals hosted by chefs such as Tipperary’s Stuart O’Keeffe, and even a gathering of redheads from around the globe were among the ideas that were put forward at the North Tipperary community meeting for next year’s The Gathering, which will be held throughout the country.
Among the more unusual ideas was to bring back the original copy of the peace treaty signed 1n 1336 between the O’Kennedys and the Butlers from Boston and have it placed in the newly reopened Nenagh Castle, even if it were for a short period of time. The agreement was given to US president John F Kennedy during his visit to Ireland in 1963. Other events mooted included walking festivals and a film festival.
Other suggestions included bringing back the overseas Roisins, stargazing in the Silvermines, a Roscrea scouts jamboree, an international hurling blitz, a kids Olympics and a Tipperary three peaks challenge.
The Gathering is a Government initiative, being led by Failte Ireland, to bring tourists to Ireland. Among the suggestions are clan gatherings, festivals, family reunions and sporting events.
Almost 200 people representing a diverse selection of community groups - from the GAA to the ICA and local graveyard committees - gathered in the Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh, for the event.
North Tipperary county manager Joe MacGrath told the group that The Gathering was a “platform for Ireland and the Irish” and “an open invitation to our connections around the world to return to Tipperary next year”.
He said that the initiative would require the support of the community to make it a success.
“The Gathering is the kind of thing that enthuses us as things are not going well in the country at the moment,” he said.
North Tipperary Mayor Michael O’Meara said The Gathering had “great potential to stimulate growth in tourism, and therefore, the economy, in North Tipperary”.
He said communities will drive the initiative “without even knowing it” by just sending an email, a letter or making a phone call asking someone to visit next year.
“Community groups have an important role to play in getting people to sample what Tipperary has to offer,” he said.
Mayor O’Meara revealed that he travels to London on a regular basis to meet the Tipperary Association there, including Lorrha man Tom Milne, and Ger Casey from Templemore.
“They do a huge amount for the Tipperary diaspora in London,” he said.
Local Junior Minister for Tourism Alan Kelly said that the Government had put a “huge amount of effort” into The Gathering because tourism was an “essential driver of the Irish economy”.
The Gathering was, he said, about our national pride and restoring our reputation.
He outlined that the Government had pledged E5m towards the entire event in an effort to get the “tens of thousands of Irish people all over the world to get together”.
With particular reference to Tipperary, Deputy Kelly said: “We are the Premier County. We are the home of the GAA, we have the Rock of Cashel and we have Lough Derg.”
Failte Ireland co-ordinator Jim Miley described the meeting as about taking the “first step” to organise events.
The Garthering is being co-ordinated in North Tipperary by Attracta Lyons of North Tipperary County Council and groups or individuals can contact her at 067-31771 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org