Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Diaspora - Homecomings and Gatherings and Shortcomings 2

"Homecoming Scotland 2014 will welcome visitors from around the world to join our inspirational year-long celebration. In the year that Scotland hosts the Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup, a nation-wide programme of events will run throughout 2014 to put this dynamic and creative nation firmly on the international stage.

Recognising the success of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations in rallying Scotland around a common theme, a series of years of focus were established to take the country through to 2014. The years spotlight some of Scotland’s greatest assets; food and drink, our reputation as an active destination, a place of culture and creativity, and a place of natural beauty."

"It’s about asking anyone who has Irish blood, a link to Ireland, or even just a love of our country – to join us for a series of amazing and diverse events throughout 2013.

They will range from clan gatherings where people will discover their roots, to rugby clubs inviting foreign teams to their sevens tournament, and groups of international business colleagues conferencing in Ireland.

Those amazing events will be created by you, your neighbour, your work colleague or your sports team. They will be organised by individuals, groups, business colleagues and clubs within the community who will reach out to their worldwide networks. For those organising the events, there will be lots of information, help and support available on this website over the coming months.

The Gathering is a powerful grass-roots movement. By reconnecting with our global community, it will be like completing an electrical circuit. Energy will flow and our community will light up and sparkle with its own vitality.

Let’s light up 2013 with an unprecedented celebration of Ireland’s global community, and our past, present and future."

But There's A Catch

Many in the Diaspora will think of Ireland as the island home of some of their ancestors, an island of 32 counties. However, this event, though promoted abroad by Tourism Ireland, is being organised by Fáilte Ireland on behalf of the Irish state ie Northern Ireland is not included.

Needless to say, Northern Ireland MLAs managed to confuse themselves over these two different Irelands and both Dublin and Belfast have failed to take account of the needs, desires and widespread roots of the Diaspora.

Just recently, I assisted a family from California. They'd spent a little time in Scotland as they considered their family name to be Scottish; they knew the townland in Antrim one strand of the family had left circa 1870 - I was able to take them to the very farmhouse with the aid of Griffith's Valuation - and then they were off to Mayo to locate another strand.

Sadly, the tourism support arrangements were of limited value to this California family and perhaps it's just as well they came in 2012 rather than 2013; their 'Irish blood', seemingly, was only recognised as Irish by Dublin in Mayo. As for Belfast, it could do with a transfusion of wit :L

Added July 5

Jim, formerly of Portrush, now of NY state, USA, writes: "Travelling to Belfast from NA has become considerably more difficult in the past several years. Only one direct flight now from the East Coast. And expensive. I am quoted $1,800.00 round trip economy NY-London-Belfast-London-NY. I could do it for less if I first flew to Chicago (2.5 hours in the wrong direction), then to Glasgow and finally Belfast - but 22 hours travel time in EACH direction ... no thanks ... I could be in Australia in that time, and for a lot less $ into the bargain.

Added July 11

John of CA state, USA writes: Your tour of Magherintendry was the highlight of our trip, especially given all of the years I have mistakenly been trying to locate my particular branch of the McConaghys in "Ballymoney". My daughter was especially thrilled.

Added July 12

This news report by Greg Dobbs highlights the problems created by the use of Ireland for both the island of 32 counties and the state of 26 counties, even for an experienced commentator. Tourism Ireland is not an Irish government agency as stated by Greg but a limited company; it markets the whole island jointly on behalf of the governing administrations in Dublin and Belfast. I wonder if Greg has any connections to the Castle Dobbs family of Carrickfergus, a family that played such a large part in the migration of folks from Ulster and Scotland to North Carolina.