A programme of events which will be taking place in the county during The Gathering Ireland 2013 will soon be drawn up for the county.
Padraig Philbin, county co-ordinator for The Gathering presented members of the Westport Electoral Area Committee with the main aims of the year long celebration, which will encourage as many of the Diaspora as possible to return to the country, with hosting headline events, local gatherings, and festivals to be held.
Locally, a county steering group is in the process of being formed and a number of local meetings are taking place; one in Ballina this week, one in Claremorris next week, and a meeting will be held in Westport at the beginning of October.
One hundred and fifty people took part in a workshop held in Castlebar in June where a number of suggested ideas included a come home to Mayo Christmas card; clan gatherings for the county; Love of the Loom in Foxford; and an Admiral Challenge in Foxford. It is hoped that a calendar for local events will be created by mid October.
Councillor Peter Flynn said the idea is great but the “onus is on every single one of us to make it happen”. The councillor suggested that a package should be put together to assist people when organising a reunion. Cllr Margaret Adams agreed that people should be given advice on how to organise reunions and she said that an event like the celebration held in Westport House, to celebrate the town’s Place to Live in Ireland award, should be organised by the council so people have a reason to come home.
Cllr John O’Malley said that it is “a great idea altogether”. Cllr Austin Frances O’Malley said that during the year “airlines and shipping agents” should reduce their fares and not rip off those travelling to Ireland.
Director of services Martin Keating said that a team will be put together to get a structure in place and focus on events in the Westport Electoral Area. Mr Keating added that the community event in Westport house was a great success, with an estimated 5,000 going through Westport House on Sunday.
For more information on hosting an event or organising a gathering visit: www.thegatheringireland.com