Ireland Calling: The Gathering 2013

In the closing days of 2012 we read that our young people are leaving this country at the rate of 200 a day, a level of emigration not experienced since the great famine. They head off to Britain, Canada, United States of America, New Zealand, many parts of Europe or as in the case of my family, to far off Australia. Although 46,500 Irish-born  left us  in the year to April 2012, these new emigrants have opportunities to stay in contact with brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends through social media and the irreplaceable Skype.  Long ago – and indeed not so long ago – when our family members departed these shores, it was often a challenge to stay in contact; people did not have telephones, for those who did, phoning was expensive;  people either could not write or were not good at writing letters.

Today New Year’s Day, marks the beginning of The Gathering 2013, a year-long series of events celebrating our heritage, our musical and literary traditions and our sense of fun all arranged to tempt our departed kinsfolk to visit the land of their fathers.  We Irish have a natural instinct to gather, rooted perhaps in the old rural tradition of the ‘meitheal’ where neighbours came together as a team  to help with the harvest or some other major event and where firm friendships were shaped.

Spike-island-aerial

Spike Island (Cork County Council)

This afternoon, a 21 gun salute resounded out over the splendid Cork Harbour,from where countless thousands left here by choice or necessity down the ages. The 21 gun salute was heard here for the first time in almost 30 years. Spike Island in the Harbour is the site of  one of only two fixed national saluting stations in Ireland, the second being on the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, appropriately enough also at the point of departure of tens of thousands of Irish seeking better lives abroad.

The sounding of the 21 gun salute is a tribute to all the people who have left Ireland, and while it  also symbolizes a ‘caoin’ from the heart of those of us who are left behind, it is a mighty symbolic call  to Ireland’s emigrants to come home, a symbolic call that has been sent out across the oceans, across continents to all parts of the world where Irish have settled to remind them of their heritage and to come back and share in some of it .

Mouth of Cork Harbour photographed from Cobh

Mouth of Cork Harbour photographed from Cobh, from where thousands of Irish left to take up new lives.

2013 is set to be a spectacular year-long celebration.

Taragaí linn. Beidh failte roimh gach duine  in the wonderful year that is planned!

References:

Central Statistics Office 

History of the 21 Gun Salute

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24 Comments

January 1, 2013 · 10:25 pm

24 responses to “Ireland Calling: The Gathering 2013

  1. May you find much to celebrate in 2013! Cork Harbour photo is haunting.

  2. A very poignant post… it reminds me of a Scottish song.. “Will Ye No Come Home Again..” This is just one version, http://www.reverbnation.com/open_graph/song/6347302
    I love the photos too…

    • Oh Yes Pauleen and indeed The Gathering is modelled on a similar Scottish initiative. Today the Ode to Joy was sung after the 21 gun salute and followed by ‘Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff ‘ – lacks the gravitas of ‘Will ye no’ come back again….’ Thanks as ever for lovely comments

  3. Nice post SV and beautiful pictures of Cork Harbour. You clearly don’t share in the cynicism from many quarters about The Gathering being a marketing exercise?

    • Thank you! Tourism is very important to Ireland, as indeed are our families in far flung places and The Gathering 2013 is a re-branding for sure. However, this is different as people on the ground, across hundreds of localities and on a voluntary basis are setting up events to honour our visitors. The hope would be that that it will raise awareness of Ireland as an excellent tourist destination, but unlike visitors say to Yellowstone National Park, most of our visitors will have direct links to our heritage through family that had to leave for better lives elsewhere. Thanks for your comment – Much appreciated.

  4. I’ll be part of those ‘coming home’ to my friends and family in the midlands – I think it’s a grand idea for the whole country to focus on, and if it helps the economy, then all the better.

  5. I have pleasure in nominating you for The Wonderful Team Readership Award.. Thank you for all you do to support others. You can read about it here…
    http://astheywere.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/a-post-with-difference_5.html

  6. Beautiful photo – a historical view too you mention – “left to take up new lives” was that for America or the continental Europe maybe both..? 🙂

    • Irish have left these shores across the millennia – many voluntarily, many to fight in wars; They have been transported and deported; they have left as economic migrants, as persecuted members of religious groups, to escape the Famine that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Many availed of assisted passages to places like Australia and New Zealand. Many also left to explore, to discover new places and cultures. Now we have a weekly ‘leaving’ of our younger generation as there are such limited prospects for carving out a good life at home due to economic circumstances. The Irish have always emigrated. They can be found across the world – USA, Germany, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Holland, England, Scotland, Australia, Spain ..you name it – we are there!

  7. Thanks so much Angela for a wonderful Blog and enriching my life… I’m therefore delighted to nominate you for the “Blog of the Year 2012 Award”. For further info just go to: http://caiteile.com/2013/01/06/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/ Cheerio for now…

    • Please let me know Angela if you wish to accept this nomination. If not, then no prob at all and no explanation is necessary. Sincerely. Catherine.

    • Catherine I am so delighted that you nominated my blog – it is humbling and such an honour for which I thank you most sincerely. My way of paying tribute to you for doing that is to include a link to your blog on my own WordPress page. Thank you – I look forward to reading your posts and get a weekly list of everything you have posted. Angela

  8. Reblogged this on Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family and commented:
    Ireland, and especially the beautiful County Clare, is not just calling me back but is positively singing it’s invitation in the beautiful language of my Great Great Grandmother, Susan Kelleher from County Clare who arrived in South Australia, 13 May 1855 aboard the “Nashwauk”… May those, of the diaspora, who long to visit/ re-visit the green, green fields of Erin be able to do so during “The Gathering 2013”. Thankyou Angela for this wonderful post which I’m delighted to share.

    • Is it OK Angela that I re-blogged this on my website or would you like me to remove it? … Foundering around in the dark here, right now, and just need a bit of guidance. Cheerio for now, Catherine.

      • Catherine . It is alwasy a great honour to have a post reposted and thank you most sincerely for doing that. I actually saw it a few days ago and I hit ‘like’ and had to laugh out loud when I got an email from WordPress saying ‘ You liked your own Blog – you are so vain! . I had thought I was saying a ‘thank you’ to you , but as you can see am still on that learning curve too. So without being in any way vain – THANK YOU ! 🙂

  9. The siren call of Ireland is singing to me but I’m afraid Kenya takes precedence this year. I might have to return in 2014 instead.

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