A new program unveiled by Galway communities aims to tap into the economic potential of the Irish diaspora.

Around 30 parishes in Co.Galway are planning to reach out and invite Irish emigrants to return to the west, to retrace their roots during a “Week of Welcomes,"  in a bid to harness the economic potential of the Irish diaspora.

The ‘Ireland Reaching Out’ program has been funded by private and public investors and was officially launched this week by leading economist David McWilliams.

The pilot scheme will invite at least 40,0000 emigrants from parishes such as Gort, Loughrea and Portumna to return to their homeland for a series of events next summer.

Emigrants will be contacted by letter, inviting them to attend the “Week of Welcomes” in their home parish.

Each parish intends to plans a series of events which will offer returning ex-pats a strong sense of local history, culture and heritage. The visitors will stay in their native parishes, eat in local restaurants and attend traditional sporting events.

It is hoped the “Week of Welcomes” will provide an economic boost for the local economies and organizers are hopeful that the returning diaspora may become inspired to invest in their homeland as a result.