A night of music by Moya Brennan and other talented Donegal musicians and singers recently launched a new county tourism initiative in an event held in Letterkenny but seen around the world.
The launch of the Donegal County Council initiative Donegal Gathering 2012, was held in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny. Live streaming over the web site, livetrad,com, brought the event to a global audience. Watch a podcast of the event at www.livetrad.com.
Moya said she was “thrilled to be an ambassador” for the county as a singer. She said it was important to her, “because I’m a real Donegal lass,” adding, “I am not shy about talking about Donegal when I’m on stage.”
More than 1,300 people sent supportive messages to the web site during the live stream, writing from North America, across the United Kingdom and continent of Europe, and from countries in the Middle East and Asia.
“We’re connected to places right around the world this evening so it’s a fabulous opportunity for us to acknowledge the connections that we have with our diaspora, to acknowledge the importance that our diaspora holds in the hearts and minds of everyone here in the county,” County Manager Seamus Neely told the more than 200 people who attended the launch.
Donegal Mayor, Fine Gael Cllr. Noel McBride, had identified the project as a priority when he was elected mayor last summer. The effort builds on a proposal from Sinn Féin Cllr. Cora Harvey during her 2010-2011 term as mayor.
At the launch, Mayor McBride, extended a “Donegal céad míle fáilte” to members of the Donegal diaspora and others with a connection to the county.
“You always hear that question being asked: Are you going home for the holidays?” Mayor McBride said. “That’s the question we need to get out to our diaspora: Are you coming home for the holidays, and what can we do in Donegal to encourage you, to encourage your friends to come home for the holidays?”
The Donegal Gathering is a key component of the Donegal Diaspora Project, which was created to connect to people around the globe with a connection to or an interest in Donegal.
Through the Gathering, “What we’re doing is highlighting those events in Donegal that are interesting, that are cultural, using the brand of ‘The Gathering’ to say, ‘Come home, this is what’s on’,” said Sally Murphy, project manager for the Donegal Diaspora Project.
The diaspora project will rely heavily on social media and the internet to contact the diaspora and make people aware of events coming up in Donegal.
“It’s managed serendipity,” Ms. Murphy said. “Of course you can wait for those wonderful chance encounters, but you can also put a framework in place that helps support them and even encourages them.”
The Donegal Gathering already has a Facebook page and blog, and the diaspora project is in the process of setting up their web site. They will be found at donegaldiaspora.ie and donegalgathering.com.
Cllr. Harvey, during her term as mayor, had proposed something of a homecoming around St. Patrick’s Day. She had suggested that rather than seeing Donegal representatives travel abroad for the holiday, she would rather see the county put on events to draw people here. Cllr. Harvey said she would still like to see that happen.
And said she was “delighted when I heard the mayor announce his major goal for the year.”
Moya Brennan, accompanied on several songs at the launch by her daughter, Aisling Jarvis, said that she always speaks of Donegal during her performances. She said recently a man came to her father’s pub, Leo’s Tavern in Meenaleck, and told Moya’s brother that, “the way I spoke about Donegal and created the pictures of how beautiful it is, and the craic we have, that it was his lifelong ambition since he heard me talking about it on stage.
“So there you go,” Moya said. “It does work.”