Communities plan for next year’s Gathering

Over the last four weeks, more than 220 people came together in meetings designed to mobilise communities around ideas for the Gathering 2013.

Over the last four weeks, more than 220 people came together in meetings designed to mobilise communities around ideas for the Gathering 2013.

“Community spirit is very much alive across Donegal and a key part of the Gathering 2013 is that it is community-led, and we are looking forward to seeing some of these innovative ideas becoming a reality in the coming months,” said Barney McLaughlin, the Gathering co-ordinator for Donegal.

Mr. McLaughlin said the community meetings were a great way to hear local ideas for bringing people to Donegal next year. He also thanked the voluntary facilitators who donated their time and effort, saying that the “high quality of the volunteers who facilitated each of these meetings was clear to be seen in the inspirational ideas that came from the meetings”.

Ideas that came from the meeting ranged from “bringing your washing home”, to “island hopping”, to “the blessing of the graves”, to a “festival of the Northern Lights”, to an “International Weavers Festival”. The Donegal Gathering Steering Group will meet this week to review the ideas that emerged from these meetings, and group members will contact communities and individuals behind the ideas to work out how best to make them a reality. 

Mr. McLaughlin said the steering group hopes to put together a calendar of events for 2013, and the group are keen to support people who have ideas for the year. He said support could include a mentor from the steering group to assist in developing the idea, or to set up a local committee. They could also provide contacts with agencies and funding bodies that could assist.

Participants said many ideas that emerged from the September meetings were creative and inspirational. For instance, a group at the meeting held in Ballybofey explored the concept, “the men who built the world”. This idea focused on finding a way to celebrate the thousands of Donegal construction workers who have, over the generations, constructed key pieces of infrastructure around the world. Another idea included a massive “Céilí Mór” at An Clachán, the folk village in Glencolmcille, to celebrate the area’s renowned hospitality and rich culture. 

Mr. McLaughlin said information and advice for developing ideas is also available online at www.thegatheringireland.com and he encouraged anyone interested in participating to contact any member of the steering group or visit the Donegal Gathering Facebook page.