A delegation from Kerry travelled to New York this week, where they joined Tourism Ireland to launch the Kerry ‘Gathering 2013’ programme, at an event on Ellis Island attended by 80 influential guests – including key American tour operators, travel agents, journalists and leaders of various Irish organisations in New York.
The influential guests heard a presentation delivered by John Griffin of Kerry County Council, about Co Kerry’s plans for ‘The Gathering 2013’. They also enjoyed a tour of the island’s museum, with a focus on Irish emigration; a poem written and read by Seán Lyons, the director of Listowel Writers’ Week; as well as traditional Irish entertainment provided by the New York Rose of Tralee Center.
‘The Gathering 2013’ will be our biggest ever tourism initiative and will consist of a year-long programme of festivals, events and other gatherings in Co Kerry and every other part of the country; it is an invitation to return to Ireland next year, targeted at people in the US and elsewhere around the world who have a connection to Ireland, whether through birth, ancestry, family connections, friendships, business or education, as well as at those who simply have a fondness for Ireland.
Throughout 2013, community, cultural, sporting and tourism groups around Co Kerry will offer homecoming programmes tailored to suit visitors’ needs. Family reunions, family history events, talks, tours, festivals and sporting events will all form part of the Kerry programme. Families with Kerry names like O’Sullivan, O’Connor, O’Shea, O’Donoghue, O’Mahony, Fitzgerald and others will be celebrated with individual weeks dedicated to them. Three of the landmark Kerry festivals – Listowel Writers' Week, Killarney Summerfest and the International Rose of Tralee – will feature special ‘Gathering’ events in 2013 and the gardens of Muckross House will be the venue for evening celebrations. Five recently selected “Roses” from New York, Washington DC, Boston, Ohio and Philadelphia were among the guests on Ellis Island.
Joe Byrne, Tourism Ireland’s Executive Vice President US and Canada, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Kerry delegation here to New York and we look forward to working with them and the other great counties of Ireland as we prepare for a very special year in 2013. Tourism Ireland will roll out an extensive programme of promotional activity across the US in the second half of this year, to highlight ‘The Gathering 2013’.”
Mayor Jim Finucane, who led the delegation, told the guests at the event on Ellis Island that visitors to Kerry in 2013 can expect a vacation to remember among family and friends. He said: “There are over 40 million Americans with Irish ancestry, a good many of them from County Kerry. Research has shown a desire for them to visit Ireland but only some actually make the booking. We hope that the invitation to ‘The Gathering’ will encourage them to make that booking.”