Emi­grants re­unite in Kin­sale

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Der­mot Ryan

Tonight is a spe­cial oc­ca­sion in Kin­sale.

It’s the night when the har­bour town ex­tends a spe­cial wel­come home to its emi­grants - a tra­di­tion stretch­ing back decades.

This week­end’s re­gatta, in it­self, is one of the old­est in the coun­try, be­ing 220 years old.

Kin­sale Peo­ple’s Re­gatta was re­vived in the 1920s, with the slo­gan “When it’s Au­gust Bank Hol­i­day, it is Kin­sale Re­gatta”.

The event put the em­pha­sis on main­tain­ing the con­tact with Kin­sale peo­ple, many forced to leave home.

It is dif­fi­cult, nowa­days, to re­alise the dif­fi­culty of keep­ing up con­tacts with loved ones abroad at that time.

Tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tions such as the in­ter­net, twit­ter and tex­ting has re­versed such trends.

But, in the last 100 years or so, it was al­most a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

The tra­di­tion of the emi­grants re­turn­ing grew from the an­nual two-week hol­i­day in in­dus­trial Eng­land which was the only time of the year when Kin­sale peo­ple could re­turn.

Many lived iso­lated and lonely lives so when the re­gatta com­mit­tee be­gan to or­gan­ise an an­nual wel­come home, the next step was the for­ma­tion of an Emi­grants As­so­ci­a­tion Lon­don to help the peo­ple of Kin­sale and Dis­trict to keep in touch and pro­vide sup­port when needed.

Groups trav­elled to Lon­don for the an­nual re­union every year but, as the pat­tern of em­i­gra­tion changed and emi­grants could re­turn at any time of the year, Kin­sale and other em­i­grant as­so­ci­a­tions lost mem­bers.

But the Kin­sale Re­gatta Com­mit­tee con­tin­ues the old tra­di­tion of wel­com­ing the emi­grants and pro­vid­ing a meet­ing place where emi­grants and their fam­i­lies can meet and rem­i­nisce over good, and bad, old days.

Tonight, ev­ery­one is wel­come to come along to the Tem­per­ance Hall from 7.30 on­wards.

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