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22 Feb 2013

2013 is announced as Ireland’s “Family History Year”

In the year of The Gathering, Ireland’s ancestral tree is ready to bloom!

Tourism Ireland today (Friday) announced that 2013 is to be Ireland’s “Family History Year”, in a bid to encourage people in Britain and elsewhere around the world to find out more about their Irish ancestry. Hundreds of clan gatherings, as well as genealogy and local history events, are planned all over Ireland this year, as part of The Gathering Ireland 2013.

With one in six British people claiming an Irish grandparent, Tourism Ireland unveiled the programme for the “Family History Year” at the popular Who Do You Think You Are Live show, which takes place in London this weekend.

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director, said: “In this special year of The Gathering, people all over Ireland are organising events to welcome home those with Irish heritage. We are calling it “The Gathering – Ireland’s Family History Year”. The year kicks off with the opening of a drop-in Irish Family History Centre in Dublin, that will operate during the St Patrick’s Festival in March. The year’s programme of clan gatherings and local history talks will continue right through to October, when Ireland’s largest genealogy event, “Back to our Past”, takes place.

“With an estimated 70 million people across the world claiming links or affiliations with the island of Ireland, Tourism Ireland is actively reaching out to the Diaspora this year. We are inviting them to visit Ireland, learn more about their heritage and explore the places their ancestors came from. For those with a deeper interest in their ancestry, there are more talks, seminars and clan gathering taking place in 2013 than ever before. Our message to the Diaspora in GB, and throughout the world, is that there has never been a better year to visit Ireland, to trace their ancestry and learn more about their Irish roots.”

A dedicated Facebook page ( was also launched by Tourism Ireland today, as an accessible place for people to share stories and learn more about their Irish roots. The page will keep people updated on the special events that are happening as part of Ireland’s “Family History Year”.

To date, the schedule of clan gatherings for 2013 includes fun elements such as the International Gathering of the O'Neill Clans in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, which will recreate the crowning of the King of Ulster; the Gallagher Clan Gathering, which will attempt to break the world record by assembling 5,000 Gallaghers in one place in Co Donegal; and the “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary Festival”, with its unique International Churn Dairy Maids Races!

The “Family History Year” initiative is just one element of Tourism Ireland’s ‘Gathering’ programme of promotions, to invite people around the world who have a connection with, or simply a fondness for, Ireland to come and visit in 2013. Tourism Ireland is also targeting the Diaspora in GB this year through advertising on relevant websites and in Irish-related newspapers; a special 32-page ‘Gathering’ supplement was distributed to 40,000 people across GB recently, in conjunction with the Irish Post. Tourism Ireland is engaging with key ‘enablers’ and influencers across GB – including Irish business networks, clans, cultural and sporting associations, Irish centre and community groups – encouraging them to promote The Gathering to their networks and to encourage members to organise their own ‘Gathering’ in Ireland this year.

Partners from Ireland joining Tourism Ireland this weekend at Who Do You Think You Are Live include, Eneclann, Kilkenny Family History, Ulster Family History, Ireland’s Blue Book and B&B Ireland. Genealogist Helen Kelly will also be on hand, providing genealogy services for visitors to the Tourism Ireland stand.