Emigrants reunite in Kinsale
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.