The biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland will see E55,000 invested in more than 30 events taking place in South Tipperary this year, as part of The Gathering.
Launched on the historic Rock of Cashel, earlier this month, with famous Tipp faces from the worlds of sport, entertainment and history, The Gathering will see community events take place in every parish across the county, alongside the flagship events.
The Gathering is not just one event but a year-long celebration of Ireland, its people and all that is great about its connections, both at home and abroad. The festival invites everyone who has a link to Ireland, or just a love of the country, to come to Ireland for a series of events this year. A steering group in this county is encouraging those visitors to come to Tipperary.
National investment has been attracted to South Tipperary for some of the events being planned here. A fund called ‘The Gathering Ireland Fund’ has provided €30,000 for 31 projects throughout the county, and the ‘IPB Gathering Fund Flagship Events’ has provided an additional E25,000 for two major projects: ‘The GAA Return Project’ and ‘Tipperary 100 Years Ago’ which will be held this summer.
Further funding is to be made available to local groups in the coming weeks, to help with their events. South Tipperary County Council and South Tipperary Tourism Company will hold a joint-funding round, which will open at the end of March. The focus will be on the geographical spread across the county as well as filling gaps in the existence calendar of events.
A county steering group has been set up drawing from the wider business, community and tourism sectors. This steering group is responsible for encouraging community meetings; developing networks of key organisers of Gathering events who will support people on the ground; setup and manage a calendar of events and a county-wide communication plan; ensuring information on The Gathering website is up to date.
As part of the local effort may well known Tipperary people have agreed to become ambassadors for the county as part of The Gathering.
Driving the economic impact of The Gathering is an important feature of the planning. There are strong links to the tourism sector and links are being made on a tourism website to promote events in teh county, as well as the development of packages between providers - for example b&bs offering offers for dinner at a local restaurant, or hotels offering cheaper entry to local attractions.
Across South Tipperary there are already 55 Gatherings confirmed. Visitors are expected to come from Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, to mention a few. Community events will be based around activities as diverse as music and sports (cycling, rugby, tennis, soccer, GAA, walking and horse racing), dance, art, heritage, Clan Gatherings, culture, language, bands, literary, family and school reunions, historical re-enactments and commemorations, drama, vintage shows, cattle breeders conference and comedy festivals.
The Gathering is a people-led project so everyone is encouraged to create a local Gathering and invite their connections from abroad home this year - across the country 325,000 people are expected to visit, generating €170 million for the economy, and South Tipperary hopes to benefit from that.
To see a full list of the 55 Gathering events already planned in South Tipp, and to keep up to date with additions to the list, see www.thegatheringireland.com