Westport is co-ordinating a number of ideas in preparation of The Gathering 2013—a year long celebration, which will encourage as many of the Diaspora as possible to return to the country, According to festival co-ordinator Dermot Langan, October 31 is the deadline for all ideas so that a calendar of events can then be prepared for the Westport area. Mr Langan said: “as Westport is the best place to live it is also the best place to gather.”
Town manager, Martin Keating said that there was a great response to a Gathering information evening which took place last week in Knockranny House Hotel. Mr Keating said that there was a very big attendance and people were full of enthusiasm about potential events. Mr Keating said that the use of Croagh Patrick as a backdrop to a major event was brought up as an idea. However, the town manager said that the success of the events all depends on people getting involved and inviting as many as they can to attend events.
Councillor Christy Hyland said that special funding should be set aside in the town councils budget for a major St Patrick’s Day event. “We are the best place to live in Ireland but we must raise the bar.” He said that the peace process in Ireland should be celebrated and bands from both sides “of the divide” should be invited and he asked that St Patrick’s Day parade be placed on next months agenda.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy agreed that those involved in the peace process should be invited to a large event in the town. Cllr Mulroy also added that The Gathering should be treated with some sensitivity as many people who have emigrated may not be able to come back to celebrate.
Cathaoirleach of the town council, Cllr Ollie Gannon complimented Minister Michael Ring, “who has worked really hard” in promoting The Gathering.