The Council has plans for a “mini-Gathering” type festival next year, which could, if successful, see several thousand members of Cavan’s diaspora and their friends welcomed home.
It comes despite admittedly “slow but positive” progress to date in terms of engagement with Cavan’s much-vaunted Diaspora Engagement Project, launched in New York in March 2017.
CEO Tommy Ryan and Cathaoirleach Madeleine Argue are currently in America where they are taking part in St Patrick’s Day festivities in Philadelphia and New York. While there, it’s their intention to gauge the interest of the Irish they meet ahead of finalising details on the proposed international 2020 home-coming.
Along with the associated boost in tourism numbers the proposed festival would bring, the added ambition is that, by promoting the county on a global scale, it could generate opportunities for business networking and partnership also.
No date has been set for what is expected to be a three-day festival. However some time between mid-March, taking in St Patrick’s Day, or late Autumn, with the potential to link-up with Taste of Cavan, are being considered.
Details first emerged at the monthly meeting of elected members, when Fine Gael’s Paddy O’Reilly, a former Cathaoirleach himself who travelled on trips abroad, asked for an update on Cavan’s Disapora Strategy.
Inter-linked with the Engagement Project, the strategy seeks to connect with people with some link to Cavan by ancestry, through business or community connections or friendship.
Councillors were informed that up to 8,000 people have contacted the council through its genealogy service, with Mr Ryan telling the meeting the local authority is beavering away at further building that number.
After the meeting concluded, Mr Ryan explained to The Anglo-Celt the event being proposed will feature a mix of sport and culture: “There will be a element of business but that is not the primary focus.”
He envisions, at some stage, a formal gala dinner would be staged for visitors and adds: “Whatever happens will be done working with the community here as well. That part is very important, if only to get them involved in promoting and bringing people home as well.”
The council chief likens the proposed event to that of ‘The Gathering’ in 2013.
“It will be a number of events. We want to try and have it an event that people want to come to, rather than one where maybe they might feel obliged to have to.”
The ambition, if successful, could be to stage the event every three to five years thereafter.
The idea had, albeit tentatively, been floated at the Irish London Association annual dinner over Christmas, where reaction was “positive”.
“This is very much still fresh off the press. It’s at the early stages of planning yet but we’re confident of making it into something that would be worthwhile, and perhaps stand out on a national level in bringing people home, and home to Cavan. It’s about people having a meaningful trip home.”