Manchester joins forces with north Mayo for Gathering project

Lawrence Hennigan (Manchester Irish Festival), Peter Jordan (Mayo North Tourism Group), Liz Murphy (Ballina Gathering), Michelle Mulherin TD (Ballina), Vincent Roche (chair of Mayo North Tourism Group), and Tony Hennigan (Manchester Mayo tourism and business director).

Lawrence Hennigan (Manchester Irish Festival), Peter Jordan (Mayo North Tourism Group), Liz Murphy (Ballina Gathering), Michelle Mulherin TD (Ballina), Vincent Roche (chair of Mayo North Tourism Group), and Tony Hennigan (Manchester Mayo tourism and business director).

Manchester's newly formed Manchester-Mayo Tourism and Business group have joined forces with tourism groups in and around Ballina to stage a special festival for the 2013 Gathering project called the 'Mayo-North Gathering'. The proposed festival was launched in Attymass at the Father Peyton Centre yesterday (Thursday ). It will be part of the Manchester-Mayo Gathering which will have festival hubs in Ballina and Attymass, but it is hoped that other parishes and surrounding towns will get involved in the initiative which hopes to boost tourism all over the north Mayo area.

Festival highlights already confirmed include the internationally famous Bonniconlon Agricultural, Ballina's Pearse Street Gathering, and a Pre-historic Heritage Trail in Attymass exploring the area’s links to its Celtic roots. The festival has already enlisted the support of two of Manchester's major festivals - the annual Manchester Irish Festival and the Levenshulme Community Festival in south Manchester to help promote it.

Partners in the project already confirmed are the Manchester-Mayo Tourism Group, the Ballina Chamber, the North Mayo and Sligo Heritage group, the Fr Peyton centre in Attymass, the Bonniconlon Show, the Ballina Salmon Festival, the Mayo North Tourism Group, the Ballina 2013 Gathering group, the Ballina Arts Centre.

Tony Hennigan from the Manchester-Mayo group said: “The idea behind the festival is to try and tap into the UK market by staging a festival which coincides with their summer break. Manchester and in particular Levenshulme village in south Manchester is home to one of the biggest Mayo communities in the UK. We want to try and reignite the tradition of families from Manchester going back to Ireland for their summer holidays to meet up with friends and family. The festival is planning to host a series of art, culture, dance, heritage, music, sport and theatre events. We are looking for as many events as possible to be staged during the week. Other possible ideas include a golf tournament, fishing competitions, heritage trails, Manchester-Mayo GAA and soccer tournaments, Irish music and dance shows, traditional Irish nights, photographic exhibitions, along with clan and parish reunions. The festival is an ideal opportunity to extend the festival season in Ballina which is launched with the Ballina Salmon Festival at the beginning of July.”

Deputy Michelle Mulherin TD added: “The Gathering 2013 is not just an opportunity to give our Irish Diaspora located all over the world a great homecoming which will make for a tremendous boost to our tourism industry for that year. Here at home, it is an opportunity for people in towns and villages, communities and parishes in our own area, to pool talent and resources and reach out to each other like never before, to go beyond traditional divides to try and create homecoming events. Working together we can achieve great things and this can form a strong co-operative basis for how we develop and market all that is great in our area and grow our tourism sector in the future.”

Vincent Roche, chairman of the Mayo North Tourism Group added: “I think this is a great idea and we are looking forward to working with Manchester to make this event one of the major events in Mayo.”

For further information about the project and how to get involved in north Mayo you can contact the Ballina Tourist Office on 096 72800 or email [email protected] or visit www.northmayo.ie For further information about the Manchester-Mayo Gathering email [email protected] or visit www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk or follow @mayogathering on Twitter or contact Tony on 00447912512977.

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