As 2011 draws to a close, it is a good time for reflection and looking back at the previous 12 months. But perhaps it is by looking further back into our past and our origins that we can find inspiration and a definable hope for the future.

The impact of the Irish Diaspora is well documented from producing world leaders to Nobel Peace Prize Winners, ground-breaking inventors and scientists to pioneering entertainers and sportspeople.

But the strength of the Irish Diaspora has always been underpinned by the ancient connectedness of family and of Clan. Centuries of war, oppression and famine may have forced the Irish and their Clans far and wide to all corners of the globe but Irish surnames have doggedly remained in place, thanks to the pride in the name shown by our emigrants.

And it is this genuinely authentic connection of an Irish surname which is now at the core of a revolutionary online mission. The Great Irish Online Clan Gathering is a movement on Facebook whereby people of an Irish surname (or who know of an Irish surname within their family tree) are being re-engaged.


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Operated by the Irish Clans Network (an organisation funded by donations anonymous benefactors), the Great Irish Online Clan Gathering is delving into something within the Irish psyche which has perhaps been overlooked by previous initiatives of the Irish Government – the deep importance of someone’s surname, their very own identity.

The fact that the project is using Facebook in such an innovative way to connect means that so many people who may otherwise never have been aware of the Irish connections within their surname can now establish a real bond with Ireland.

It is this type of forward-thinking approach that can build Ireland’s profile internationally and showcase the rich heritage and culture that has emanated from this island. The possibilities are endless when drawing on a collective strength and this initiative promises to highlight that while some Irish Clans may historically have been insular, it is the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” that will help bring Ireland to the fore once more in a truly positive fashion.

So as you reflect on the year gone by and look towards 2012, actively seek out your Irish Clan at the Great Irish Online Clan Gathering this holiday season – you never know to who you might find yourself connected and to where it might lead.