Ray Balfe of the OPW and Battle of the Boyne site; Mark Rowlette, Failte Ireland; Joanne Macken, The Gathering steering committee, and Michele Whelan, Boyne Valley tourism officer, launching the Boyne Valley Gathering 2013.

Boyne Valley tourism interests plan their part in 'Gathering'

Following the launch of The Gathering by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Éamonn Gilmore and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar, the Boyne Valley will host a community meeting to garner ideas for a year-long celebration to welcome back members of the Irish diaspora. There are 71 million people around the world with Irish heritage and the objective of The Gathering 2013 is to give them a compelling reason to return home to the Boyne Valley next year to join in a year-long celebration of all that is Irish. The Gathering 2013 originated at the first Global Irish Economic Forum which took place in Farmleigh in 2009. The objective was to develop a link with Ireland's diaspora and to provide a platform to contribute towards Ireland's renewal. The Gathering is about reaching out to all Ireland's connections abroad, from family, friends and loved ones to business and education connections. The Gathering calls on everyone to join in, by identifying overseas contacts and inviting them back for an unprecedented year-long celebration. It gives everyone an opportunity to work together on a project which will have a positive impact on Ireland's economic recovery. Community meetings will take place nationwide and the Boyne Valley will be one of the first regions to host such an event. The event was launched at the Battle of the Boyne site with an announcement that the Boyne Valley community meeting will take place on Thursday 19th July with registration at 6.30pm at the new Conyngham Arms Hotel in Slane. Michele Whelan, Boyne Valley tourism officer, said: "We are inviting everyone in Meath and Drogheda to get involved with The Boyne Valley Gathering by coming along to the community meeting on Thursday 19th July. The community meeting is open to festivals, clubs, community groups, colleges, businesses or even individuals with international networks and a good idea to attract people back to the Boyne Valley during 2013. "This meeting will commence the planning process for The Gathering here and will be an opportunity to discuss how we can make the most of The Gathering for the Boyne Valley." She added that the plan is to compile a very persuasive and dynamic calendar of events for 2013 with lots of variety, including festivals, clan gatherings, school reunions, business events, music events and sporting events. "We are encouraging everyone to think firstly about what contacts you have abroad, and secondly, how you can motivate them to return to the Boyne Valley next year." It is expected that The Gathering will attract an additional 325,000 overseas visitors to Ireland, which will generate an additional €170 million in revenue to the Irish economy and create 2,720 jobs. To register to attend the Boyne Valley Gathering event, email mwhelan@discoverboynevalley.ie