Mayo has planned the third largest number of Gathering events in Ireland, trailing behind only Dublin and Cork.
That is according to figures on the Gathering Ireland website yesterday (Thursday ). On that website Mayo had registered 201 Gathering events but the Mayo Gathering Festivals and Events Calendar which was launched on Monday gave details of 268 gatherings in the county. This means that more than 60 events have yet to be registered on the official gathering website and shows how Mayo has embraced this tourism initiative with great enthusiasm.
With new events constantly being planned and registered every day on the Gathering website, the numbers change on a very regular basis, but more important than how Mayo ranks on a website listing is how the county leverages the potential tourism spend that should come with such a large number of festivals and events on offer.
Included in the 268 Mayo gatherings already planned are three flagship events in the county’s three largest towns: Ballina, Castlebar and Westport.
Ballina will host the Mayo North Welcome Home Gathering from August 1 to 9, Castlebar in conjunction with Killala is planning the In Humbert’s Footsteps Gathering from August 16 to 18, and the Féile Granuaile will take place in Westport from May 24 to 28.
Speaking at the Mayo Gathering launch Mayor of Castlebar Cllr Brendan Henaghan said we cannot understate how important the Gathering is for Ireland and Mayo. “2013 is going to be the relaunch of Ireland PLC. It’s a massive opportunity to put our best foot forward,” he said.
Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Cyril Burke, outlined the work that has gone in to meeting our Diaspora abroad and commended local communities for using this opportunity to reinvent themselves.
Gathering co-ordinator in Mayo Padraig Philbin said while they are looking forward to the flagship events, it is not just about the big gatherings and evenings but also the small ones. “And there’s no doubt that the small gatherings of family and friends could possibly be the most successful,” he added.
Attending the launch on behalf of Fáilte Ireland and the Gathering Ireland was Castlebar native Michelle Staunton who said she was delighted to see Mayo leading the way. Ms Staunton stressed the importance of the invite and said she was looking forward to the high drama planned for Castlebar in August.
In launching Mayo’s Gathering calendar Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Sport Michael Ring commended everyone who has worked so hard to plan events and festivals as well as the national Gathering team who have co-ordinated the whole initiative.
“On behalf of the Government I want to say to everyone who has organised a gathering in this county thank you very much for what you are doing for your community and your country. The volunteers, the people who do this for nothing, they are not the hurlers on the ditch. I want to say to the volunteers well done and to the hurlers on the ditch, stay on the ditch,” Minister Ring said. He also commended Mayo for leading the way.
Minister Ring also sent a message to the hospitality industry to give value for money, show respect, and remember that tourists are ambassadors who will bring back the message that Ireland has a great product on offer.
Also present at the launch at Lough Lannagh Holiday Village was Michael McGreal of the Irish Public Bodies insurance company which pledged €1 million support to the initiative.