Hollywood Hunks Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan are to spearhead the drive to kick-start bookings for the massive Gathering homecoming festival next year.

The ‘Festival of Festivals’ is intended to entice the Irish Diaspora home in 2013 and give the struggling economy a massive boost.

Neeson and Brosnan have already signed up to act as ambassadors for the Gathering along with fellow actor Stephen Rea, writer Maeve Binchy and Irish rugby team captain Paul O’Connell.

“I’m an Irishman and proud of it, and I’m proud of the country,” said Meath man Brosnan.

“I regularly go back home, and I’d invite everyone with a connection to Ireland to go back in 2013 and celebrate what it means to be Irish.”

Antrim native Neeson, from Ballymena, said: “Being Irish and a citizen of the world has made me truly appreciate Irish culture, music and history.

“Whether you’re first or second-generation Irish, or even have no connection to Ireland, you should visit in 2013 for a unique experience.”

Irish Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar told a press conference after the St Patrick’s Day parade in London that the event has the potential to be a major boost for the country.

Announcing that this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade generated almost $70million income for Dublin businesses, Minister Varadkar predicted as many as 325,000 extra visitors could travel to Ireland next year.

“There has been great coverage in the global media and a message has gone out that Ireland is open for business,” said Minister Varadkar.

“We have also sent an invitation to the world to come to Ireland next year.

“Government ministers have been promoting The Gathering around the world as part of the St Patrick’s Day events and I have promoted it personally with the Irish Diaspora in Britain.”


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