As the clock continues to tick down to next year’s much anticipated Donegal Gathering in 2013, Paddy Harte, Chairman Donegal Gathering Steering Group, has said he’s delighted to have secured Sir Gerry Robinson, Packie Bonner, Shay Given and Noel Cunningham as ambassadors for the event.
“It’s great to see all four speaking so passionately about their county and making themselves available to support the Gathering in 2013,” Paddy commented.
“It is brilliant to have two of the most outstanding figures of Irish Football, one of the most respected members of the international business community and one of the top personalities in the county as part of our team of ambassadors,” he attended.
The four ambassadors have each penned a message about their views on being an ambassador.
Noel Cunningham says: “All that time ago I heard talk of the nucleus of an idea, that we as a proud Nation, albeit a little battered and bruised, would go out to our Diaspora - all those first and second and third generation Irishmen and Irishwomen and extend a welcome. Indeed, more to the point that we at home would go out of our way to organise and arrange events that would encourage these people and their friends and indeed anyone wishing to connect or re-connect with Ireland to a great celebration of our country and a wonderful year long party. The idea of The Gathering 2013 was thus born !
“I thought then that this was an inspired idea, and sure as hell still do. I loved the idea that my country fabled in song, dance , drama , would
throw open its arms in welcome to the beauty of the hills, lakes,valleys, towns and villages. The beautiful soul of the people, the warmest of welcomes, the richness of our culture, the magic of our poets and playwrights, the power of our theatre, would be enthusiastically embraced by all of us and packaged and presented to the world by way of an invitation to all to come join us. Be part of it, re-connect with long lost friends and family and have long cherished dreams of a return to the old Country beloved of all emigrants come true.
“I find it all rather magical. And don’t tell me that if the postcard sent to all Irish homes last week is written and posted all over the world that a little frisson of excitement and emotion and maybe homesickness or for some a Country never visited will not hit the recipient of those cards. I lived away from Donegal for many a year and if in years gone by that invitation postcard dropped on to my doormat, then I would have been moved!
“So from Sydney to Singapore, New York to New Delhi, London to Liberia people will say “this is the year, I always meant to return, I always wanted to visit, I am going home. Ireland here I come” The hills of Donegal beckon !
“I am honoured to be an Ambassador, I will fly the flag for Donegal and for Ireland. The country and Donegal is in my heart and soul and every fibre of my being. I am a proud Donegal man, a proud Irishman. I want to tap into the magic felt by those returning home, I want to help them come home. Let us all work together to make it a memorable year. I would stand at the airport days on end just for the privilege of saying ‘welcome home’ I may well do that !“
Comments Packie Bonner: “I am very proud to be an ambassador for The Donegal Gathering. Donegal is my home county and has always been very dear to me.
2013 is going to be an incredible year; there will be something for everyone and it is a great opportunity for us to showcase all the things Donegal has to offer. I am looking forward to coming home and playing my part for the Gathering and I would like to encourage everyone to get involved in any way they can.”
Says Sir Gerry Robsinon: “The Gathering is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect people we know and care for with Ireland and with Donegal in particular.
No one visiting this place can fail to feel a part of something very special. For me, Donegal is home, a place to be at ease in, a place to wrap around
yourself and to enjoy. It would be a shame not to get yourself involved with this special event. Make it your New Year’s resolution to do something, however small, to encourage friends and family to visit these shores. You can be sure that they will thank you for it.
Shay Given says: “I am delighted to be part of The Gathering 2013, and I’m very proud to be a Gathering Ambassador for my own county. What a great year to have the Gathering with the Sam Maguire back in Donegal. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us from Donegal to throw open our arms and invite everyone we know to come enjoy our wonderful county. I owe a great debt of gratitude that can never be repaid to my upbringing in Donegal. From the family that surrounded me, to the teachers that educated me, to the friends that continue to this day to keep me grounded and longing to be home more often than I get the chance to.
Highlights include catching fish with hand-lines, using jumpers for goalposts in the field beside the house, building bonfires with tyres and branches for Halloween and being off school every year for a few weeks gathering spuds for my Dad. There is a saying in Donegal (which family & friends throw at me all the time) which goes “It’s far fray such-and-such that you were reared.” Just in case there was any danger of my feet getting off the ground. It always makes me smile and I think of this first when I think of home. There are so many qualities to the county, from the beautiful landscapes to the accents to the people themselves that’s it’s hard to summarise in words.”