26 October 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The energy displayed by Co Monaghan tourism stakeholders in demonstrating early support for next year’s ‘The Gathering’ initiative – a national promotion which aims to attract up to 325,000 extra visitors to Ireland – was praised by Michelle Staunton at the formal county launch of the local dimension of the event in Monaghan Town’s Market House last Thursday evening.
A countywide spectrum of community, commercial and local authority interests heard Ms Staunton, one of the national Gathering co-ordinators, praise the early momentum that the project had accumulated in the county, where 43 projects are already in the planning stages.
“You have made a huge start in Co Monaghan,” Ms Staunton stated. “The energy you are demonstrating is very impressive, and things are going really, really well.”
Co Mayor Hugh McElvaney, who performed the official county launch, told the Market House audience that the gathering was “the people’s party”, and called on everyone in Monaghan to play their part in reaching out to the county’s huge diaspora of family and friends domiciled abroad, predicting long-term economic and cultural benefits if the potential of the event was maximised at local level.
Acting Co Manager David Fallon said that a full calendar of carefully co-ordinated events was already in preparation to make The Gathering a main focal point of activity in the county in 2013.
“Remember, at the heart of it The Gathering Ireland is a people-led project and the success of it is down to us,” Mr Fallon stated.
Co Monaghan Tourism Officer Dympna Condra, who is the county’s Gathering co-ordinator, greeted the attendance at Thursday’s launch, and Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Town Council Seamus Treanor was also on hand to welcome those present.
Mayor McElvaney in his address pointed out that Monaghan Co Council was co-ordinating this initiative at county level, committing time and resources to The Gathering 2013 to ensure that “it will prove a major success for the people of Monaghan”.
Over 70 million people worldwide claimed Irish ancestry, and The Gathering 2013 provided the perfect excuse to reach out to them, he said.
“We are anxious to reach out to our Monaghan diaspora – our family and friends living abroad – and also, most importantly, to bring welcome business to our towns and villages and to our tourism trade. So I’m asking everyone in Monaghan to play their part.”
The Mayor said that the enthusiasm and support displayed for The Gathering in the county to date had been tremendous.
“The community meeting held on July 25 in Castleblayney was attended by 140 people and there was a plethora of interesting ideas generated at that event. Our task now is to convert some of these ideas into concrete events or festivals and also to encourage other community groups and organisations to come forward with new festivals and to pledge them on the national Gathering website.”
Mayor McElvaney told the launch that there was a huge range of events already committed, and many communities were in the throes of organising them at present.
“These range from clan gatherings to school reunions, from dog mushing competitions to bog snorkelling,” the Mayor noted.
“However, The Gathering will run for the full year and we need a comprehensive calendar of events to attract people to the county, not only in the summer months but also in the ‘shoulder’ months as well.”
He encouraged the representatives present and the wider county community to get their thinking caps on, and start having conversations …

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