AS 2013 gets un­der­way so too does The Gath­er­ing, the na­tion­wide ini­tia­tive to forge con­nec­tions for the peo­ple of Ire­land at home and abroad.

To cel­e­brate the year and the na­tion any­one with links to Ire­land or who sim­ply has a love for the coun­try is be­ing en­cour­aged to take a trip to the emer­ald isle and en­joy all it has to of­fer.

At present a to­tal of 82 events have been reg­is­tered to The Gath­er­ing's web­site, a fig­ure which is grow­ing by the week.

The Gath­er­ing has seen com­mu­ni­ties large and small brim with en­thu­si­asm about host­ing var­i­ous events from sport­ing oc­ca­sions to pri­vate fam­ily re­unions and clan gath­er­ings.

School re­unions and an­ces­try events have also proved to be very pop­u­lar and have seen quite an in­ter­est from in­ter­ested vis­i­tors.

For many it will be the first time that they visit Ir­ish shores, the home of their an­ces­tors which makes it all the more spe­cial as The Gath­er­ing is in­spir­ing re­unions and jour­neys that would not have been con­ceived oth­er­wise.

The Gath­er­ing was launched by the Taoiseach, Tá­naiste and Min­is­ter for Tourism in May 2012 and is be­ing sup­ported by Fáilte Ire­land and Tourism Ire­land.

It prom­ises to be the big­gest tourism ini­tia­tive ever staged in Ire­land and is a wel­come prospect given the cur­rently eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties ex­pe­ri­enced na­tion­wide.

The ini­tia­tive is de­pend­ing on in­di­vid­u­als and groups to make it work.

In­ter­ested par­ties are be­ing en­cour­aged to in­vite even one per­son that they know abroad who might rel­ish a trip home to join in the cel­e­bra­tions.

Word of mouth has al­ready at­tracted numer­ous vis­i­tors.

The ini­tia­tive will bring to­gether hun­dreds of fes­ti­vals and events through­out Ire­land that cel­e­brate the best in Ir­ish mu­sic, art, lit­er­a­ture, dance, cul­ture, her­itage, sport, film and food.

It's early days and vol­un­teers are still en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in The Gath­er­ing and to get on board to or­gan­ise and plan events.

Var­i­ous com­mu­nity meet­ings have taken place in each county with mem­bers of The Gath­er­ing team where ideas have been dis­cussed.

Each meet­ing has a steer­ing com­mit­tee formed by lo­cals who aim to get ideas from the page to re­al­ity.

If you need help with your idea or want to get in­volved more, you can con­tact your own county co-or­di­na­tor who heads up your lo­cal steer­ing com­mit­tee the de­tails of which can be sought from www.the­gath­eringire­land.com

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