Tourism Ireland launched the County Kerry focus of  The Gathering  initiative Wednesday at Ellis Island in New York.

It was an afternoon that brought together many County Kerry affiliated societies and organizations stateside. At the event,  Tourism Ireland outlined their ambitious plans for next year to help draw people from the world over back home to Ireland. Representatives from several organizations were present for the day’s Ellis Island tour and luncheon.

The Kerryman’s Association, local AOHs, and Rose of Tralee members were all on hand to support. It wouldn’t have been a gathering of Irish organizations without a few clouds and a slight rain falling from the sky.

Though of course highly modernized now, the ferry ride over to Ellis Island from Battery Park in the chilly wet weather had many considering the hardships that our shared ancestors must have faced in long journeys across the Atlantic about a century ago.

The Irish party  were provided an informative brief tour of some Ellis Island’s most notable areas led by professional tour guide Tom Bernardin. During his tour, Bernardin noted how the Irish met fierce prejudice from Nativists upon arriving in America in the post-World War I era. In an argument that feels almost too relevant to today, Natives of the bygone era believed that newcomers who were immigrating into America took all the jobs, caused crime and drained resources.

As a response, the Irish made themselves pillars of society by throwing their work and dedication into areas of public service, such as fire and police services.Their dedication to public service helped carried the Irish to where they are today in America, with of course, producing a President along the way.

President Kennedy was a third generation descendant of an  Irish immigrant. After the tour, the luncheon began at Ellis Island, whose “iconic” locale was noted. Contestants, from this year’s New York Rose selection for the Rose of Tralee provided some brief entertainment including Irish music, song and dance prior to presentations.

The Rose of Tralee International Festival in 2013 will be used as part of the marketing efforts for The Gathering and will feature an expanded programme for that year.

Kerry County Councillor Jim Finucane walked the audience through the multitude of different attractions that County Kerry has to help draw in visitors, both Irish and non-Irish. "Whatever you want to do, you can do it in Kerry,” said Finucane, remarking about Kerry’s array of activities available to its visitors.

Three of the signature events that Kerry will be hosting in part of The Gathering celebrations will be an event, at Muckross House in Killarney; Listowel Writer’s Week Week festival which will highlight the literature of the diaspora and contribution of Irish American writers to the world; and Killarney

Summerfest which will feature events both big and small to help drive up the number of visitors.Another event that will, as usual, receive special attention throughout the Kingdom in 2013 is the International Rose of Tralee festival, which Finucane described as always being a “major success” during its fifty-plus years of existence.

The Festival next year will be expanded again to accommodate The Gathering’s efforts. Finucane touched upon Kerry’s “superb golf” opportunities, and how a St. Brendan’s trail is being developed in the county. In addition to these extended special programmes, County Kerry will be hosting an array of other events during 2013 as part of The Gathering, many of which are still in development.

A primary focus will of course fall on attracting those who wish to trace their genealogical roots throughout Kerry, which has some of the most extensive  data organized in the country. For more information about The Gathering click here.


Ellis Island in Upper New York BayGoogle Images