October 2012 Update



Thursday October 4th: Fergus O’ Dowd, Minister of State launched a national project that sees Ireland’s County and City Libraries embrace The Gathering Ireland 2013. The project entitled ‘Then and Now’ was launched by Minister O’ Dowd at the County and City Librarians Conference held in the Glenview Hotel, the Glen of the Downs,Wicklow. The national project aims to support the Gathering Ireland 2013 initiative to bring 325,000 tourists to Ireland throughout 2013.
The ‘Then and Now’ project will utilise the local history collections available to libraries across the country to create an exciting and unique Gathering Ireland 2013 invitation. Each local authority have chosen six photos from their collections, some dating back to the early 20th Century, depicting scenes across their locality. The Roscommon selection include Roscommon Town, Boyle, Castlerea, Ballaghaderreen, Strokestown and Ballyfarnan. 

The Ireland Reaching Out Programme is working in close partnership with "The Gathering 2013" initiative which is preparing to invite an additional 340,000 visitors to the country through to the end of 2013.
Henry Healy, who has been appointed Community Activation Leader for the programme, speaking at the programme promotion in Roscommon County Library, last week said that “The Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) project is based on a simple idea; instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, we go the other way. Working through voluntary effort at a townland, village and parish level here in Ireland, we identify who left, and trace them and their descendants worldwide, proactively engaging with them and inviting them to become part of an extended “virtual” community with their place of origin. In this way, the entire Irish Diaspora of 70 million can be systematically reunified online and invited back or to engage with their ancestral parish for the benefit of all.”
This reverse genealogy entails the tracing and recording of all the people who left and seeking out their living descendents worldwide. Those identified or recognized as persons of Irish heritage or affiliation are invited to become part of a new extended Irish society. The Ireland XO project offers an extraordinary opportunity for local parish communities to extend the numbers of people committed to their parish by inviting its own Diaspora worldwide to become involved in their place of origin. This pilot project is an opportunity to boost tourism and bring economic benefit to the area. It is envisaged that enterprising members of the returning Diaspora may eventually become investors in the area.
Richie Farrell, County Roscommon Coordinator for the Gathering stated that “we are delighted to be in a position to facilitate the presentation on the programme and it offers a unique opportunity as part of the Gathering coordination to initiate such a programme in Roscommon for local parish communities to self develop. It has the potential for communities to become part of a new extended global Irish community which will open up new possibilities for social, cultural and economic development””. 

The Ireland Reaching is now being rolled out nationally. The roll out programme in the western regions including Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon & Mayo is being arranged by the Western Development Commission , in association with the local authorities and community groups that may be interested in being involved.

Further details about the programme are available on

Supported By

This project received grant aid from Roscommon LEADER Partnership Rural Development Programme which is financed by the Irish Government under the Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007-2013 and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development:Europe investing in Rural Areas.