The Gathering Ireland, the Fáilte Ireland tourism initiative, has the potential to rekindle relationships with relatives, neighbours, and friends, while forging new ones with the Irish Diaspora across the globe. The Foxford community in association with Ireland Reaching Out, the not for profit organisation, are working through voluntary effort at parish, village and townland level, to identify those who emigrated, and trace them and their descendants worldwide. Traditionally, the town, like most towns in the west of Ireland, suffered from the effects of emigration, the loss of family members, and a missing generation in the community, effectively leaving townlands devoid of their former population. Unfortunately, emigration has once again became a modern day reality as our young people seek out opportunities across Europe, Australia, and the USA.
Foxford has a unique relationship with Argentina, where half a million people claim Irish blood, by virtue of the fact that Admiral William Brown was born here in 1777. He is revered is his adopted country, having achieved its liberation from the Spanish and Brazilian empires.
Other Irishmen also played a leading role in the development of Argentina, including Limerick native Father Thomas Field, a Jesuit missionary priest; and later Father Anthony Fahy, a Dominican priest and native of Loughrea, County Galway. In neighbouring Chile, the O’Higgins family who hailed from County Sligo also came to prominence. Numerous success stories are attributed to Irish emigrants in Argentina, one of note is that of John Murphy of Wexford, who according to folk tradition, arrived in Argentina with just a pound in his pocket. By the time he died in the 1870s he had given his name to the town of Murphy, in Buenos Aires Province.
Irish emigration was not confined to Argentina, as Peter Campbell is considered to be the Father of the Uruguayan navy.
The Ireland Reaching Out project is about connecting people and creating lifelong relationships between those of Irish heritage, who share a common history and a special bond of place. The idea is very simple, instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to return to Ireland to trace their roots, the community are proactively researching, reaching out and making contact with the Diaspora from the area.
The Gathering Foxford 2013 which takes place on the August Bank Holiday, includes the JJ O’Hara Memorial Lecture, entitled “Irish Emigration to Argentina and other Countries in Latin America” and will be delivered by Professor David Barnwell, senior lecturer, NUI Maynooth, on Friday evening, August 2.
A traditional music/dance workshop, a “barn style” dance, and a singing/poetry session influenced by the Foxfordborn poet, Frederick Robert Higgins, will take place.
Inspired by a faded photograph of the “Class of ‘73” which was taken in the grounds of St Patrick’s National School, it is hoped to contact all the former students and invite them for a reunion photograph on Saturday evening, August 3, - the 40th anniversary of that event.
It is envisaged that other groups will organise additional events during that weekend. Inform your relatives residing overseas about the Gathering. If you wish to get involved in the Foxford/Toomore Ireland Reaching Out project, contact [email protected],com and/or the Gathering Foxford 2013 on 086 062 9940.