|L-R: Genealogist Karel Kiely; Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland; and|
prize-winner Mary Powell, plan Mary’s visit to the
homestead of her ancestors in Co Wexford.
'The Gathering Ireland saw huge engagement with the diaspora worldwide throughout 2013 and an increased focus on the promotion of roots tourism by Tourism Ireland.
The organisation has announced that encouraging the diaspora home, to trace their Irish heritage, will remain a key focus in 2014 and beyond.
With hundreds of clan gatherings and family meetings taking place right around Ireland as part of the Gathering, Tourism Ireland dubbed 2013 ‘Ireland’s Family History Year’. To celebrate the success of the year, Tourism Ireland teamed up with RootsIreland.ie for a special promotion on Facebook; the promotion included the chance to win an ancestral holiday in Ireland over the New Year period.
The lucky winner was Irish-American Mary Powell &nash; from Churchville in New York – who has roots in Galway (the King family), Cork (McCartys) and Wexford (Duggans). As part of her prize, RootsIreland.ie arranged for Mary and her husband to visit the homestead of her ancestors in The Burrow, near Rosslare, and to meet with her long-lost Wexford cousins. She was overwhelmed by the experience and plans to return to Ireland very soon, this time with her extended family, so that they too can find out more about their Irish heritage.
Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director, said: “The year of the Gathering was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our diaspora around the globe and encourage those with Irish roots to come home and visit. Tourism Ireland believes that 2014 offers continued growth opportunities, given the new flights that are planned from key markets like the United States and Canada, as well as expanded services on existing air routes from elsewhere. Last year, we established a new ‘Ireland Family History’ page on Facebook, to connect with those with Irish heritage. The fact that the page has gained almost 200,000 fans worldwide demonstrates the high level of interest in genealogy and this will continue remain a central focus in our overseas marketing of Ireland in 2014 and beyond.”