Monday 25 February 2013

2013: Ireland's Family History Year

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland, with Sarah Williams,
editor of WDYTYA? magazine, at the launch of
Ireland's Family History Year in London.

Tourism Ireland announced at WDYTYA?Live that 2013 is to be Ireland’s “Family History Year”. London was a suitable setting for the launch, with one in six British residents claiming an Irish grandparent.

The promotion is a bid to encourage the diaspora, whether in the UK or elsewhere, to find out more about their Irish ancestry. It's an initiative within an initiative; The Gathering has already done a lot of the leg work and there is a full schedule of clan gatherings, genealogy and local history events planned for the year.

On the fun side are the International Gathering of the O'Neill Clans in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, which will recreate the crowning of the King of Ulster; the Gallagher Clan Gathering, which will attempt to break the world record by assembling 5,000 Gallaghers in one place in Co Donegal; and the 'It’s A Long Way to Tipperary Festival', with its unique International Churn Dairy Maids Races!

In pure genealogy terms, the Family History Year will be kick-started next month with the opening of the St Patrick's Festival Genealogy Centre in Dublin (more about this five-day event, masterminded by Eneclann/, in a post last week).

Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director, said of Ireland's Family History Year: 'The programme of clan gatherings and local history talks will continue right through to October, when Ireland’s largest genealogy event, Back to our Past, takes place.

'There are more talks, seminars and clan gathering taking place in 2013 than ever before. Our message to the Diaspora in the UK and throughout the world, is that there has never been a better year to visit Ireland, to trace their ancestry and learn more about their Irish roots.'

A dedicated Facebook page has also been launched by Tourism Ireland, as an accessible place for people to share stories and learn more about their Irish roots. The page will keep people updated on the special events that are happening as part of Ireland’s “Family History Year”. It already has nearly 10,000 'Likes', which is pretty impressive!

(See my full report of this year's WDYTYA?Live exhibition here.)