One of the smallest counties in Ireland hopes it can borrow a social media catchphrase to capture a world-wide tourist audience - an innovation welcomed by Tourism Minister Michael Ring at the Leitrim Roots Festival 2013 launch.

The letters 'LOL’ are peppered across messages on social media and by mobile texts to mean 'Laugh out Loud' or ‘Lots of Love’ but now the Leitrim Roots Genealogy Festival )taking place from the 20th to 28th September  2013) has launched a tourism initiative that will try to persuade people of Leitrim Irish Heritage abroad to ‘lol’ and "Love Our Leitrim".

Millions of texters, emailers, tweeters and bloggers are intimately familiar with the three little letters that are to become one of Leitrim Roots Festival’s marketing tools.

It has been estimated that there are one million people in the US alone with Leitrim ancestry. There are also large numbers of people with Leitrim links in England, Canada and Australia.
The organisers spearheaded by Leitrim Genealogy Centre, Leitrim Tourism and Leitrim local authority hope that every time people type `LOL', they'll be encouraged to think of Leitrim, and to explore their Irish Roots.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD said “2013 is set to be an incredible year when The Gathering Ireland takes place - our biggest ever tourism initiative. I’m delighted to see that Leitrim will be at the heart of the Gathering with the Leitrim Roots Festival. This festival is an opportunity for visitors and tourists to come back to the community of their ancestors, rediscover historical places, reconnect with their communities, and renew their bond with Ireland. Festivals and events are a key part of Irish life and greatly improve the overall experience of Ireland for visitors. The Leitrim Roots Festival is just one of the hundreds of highlights in the packed calendar of local Gatherings planned for 2013.

“Communities, towns and villages across Ireland are busy planning festivals and events for what promises to be a fantastic year. I wish the Leitrim Roots Festival and its organisers every success.” 

This is not the first time that the festival has taken place with previous successful festivals having taken place in 2006 and 2007.

The 2013 Genealogy Festival programme will give visitors the opportunity to engage with on-site genealogists and local communities, and to find out more about the county their ancestors came from. This festival will also feature cultural events including music concerts, heritage lectures on roots-related topics and tours of the tranquil surroundings of Leitrim, a truly hidden gem in the Irish landscape.

Commenting on the launch the Festival Organiser Joe Lowe said ‘We are looking to use a modern day cultural term to capture and promote our historical and cultural links of the County. The festival will be of great interest to people young and old whose ancestors came from Co. Leitrim or people who were born in Co. Leitrim. But I must highlight we also welcome people wanting a genuine Irish Experience not just those of Leitrim Ancestry’.

For those interested in finding out more and promoting the Leitrim Roots Festival in September 2013 please visit , or follow them on twitter @LeitrimRoots and remember to “lol”.