‘Gathering’ gaining momentum

There are already 115 confirmed events planned for locations across Donegal next year as part of the national tourism initiative, “The Gathering”, with more to come.

There are already 115 confirmed events planned for locations across Donegal next year as part of the national tourism initiative, “The Gathering”, with more to come.

The Donegal Gathering includes events planned for towns and villages across the county, from flagship events such as Earagail Arts Festival and the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, to more local draws, such as walking festivals; clan, townland and club reunions; and local cultural celebrations.

Donegal Mayor, Labour Cllr. Frank McBrearty Jr., said the Donegal Gathering is awakening a sense of community across the county. “It is local people from local communities that are creating these events that are being showcased,” he said on Friday at a media briefing.

Paddy Harte, chairperson of the Donegal Gathering steering committee, said community workshops held to discuss potential projects have shown the energy and enthusiasm that local communities have put behind the initiative. He said he believed a “great, unintended consequence” will be a new awareness for Donegal people. “Donegal people are going to see how much other Donegal people do on a volunteer basis for the county,” he said. “We will get a fuller awareness of ourselves.”

The committee has also recruited internationally known “ambassadors” from different fields -- such as singers Daniel O’Donnell and Moya Brennan, sporting stars Shay Given and Packie Bonner and businesspeople Gerry Robinson and Moya Doherty, to name a few -- who will promote the Donegal Gathering as well.

Martina Bromley, head of operations for Fáilte Ireland, said the initiative is not just a project for Donegal County Council, Fáilte Ireland, and agencies involved, but could serve as a grassroots model for working together for Donegal.

Speaking after the briefing, Mr. Harte recalled a phrase he heard used by a Paralympian, who said his success resulted from “the aggregate of marginal gains”.

“The success of the Gathering is going to be based on ‘the aggregate of marginal gains’, the sum of all these things,” Mr. Harte said.

More information at the web sites www.donegalgathering.com and www.thegatheringireland.com.

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