The Gathering recently launched in Ireland is an attempt to woo the Diaspora home to Ireland in 2013 as part of a major homecoming festival.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny portrayed it as a major effort by the Irish in Ireland to call back home generations of Irish who have never visited, or who have wanted to visit again but never made it back.

Every town in Ireland is being asked to prepare an event that would attract those from overseas to come home to Ireland.

The Irish have come a long way in recognizing the role of those who left, and the Gathering offers an outstanding opportunity for closer bonds that will help create long term links on both sides of the Atlantic and, indeed, around the world.

It is an idea that deserves a major response in Irish America.  The notion of a closer relationship with Ireland is at the heart of most Irish organizations and community groups.

The Irish government hopes to gain an extra 300,000 visitors through the Gathering initiative, which is based in part on a similar Scottish event called the Homecoming which took place in 2009.

It is a laudable goal and one which Irish Americans can certainly connect to.

In an increasingly globalized world, the bonds and roots of ethnic heritage have come to seem more important than ever to millions worldwide. The Gathering next year can help strengthen those bonds.

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