Huge crowd turns out to launch the Gathering in Longford

From the mowing of Pat Murphy’s Meadow in Dromard to learning more about the great writers of this county; arts, cultural, heritage and musical festivals and the Mel International Festival - to mention but a few - it seems Co Longford will be the place to be in 2013.

From the mowing of Pat Murphy’s Meadow in Dromard to learning more about the great writers of this county; arts, cultural, heritage and musical festivals and the Mel International Festival - to mention but a few - it seems Co Longford will be the place to be in 2013.

And, if the energy and positivity in the room was anything to go by at Longford’s Backstage Theatre on Monday night during the launch of the county’s Gathering Ireland 2013, then get ready Longfordians everywhere - because this year is going to be one hell of a do around these parts.The night itself was a bag of entertainment incapsulating the talents of local playwright Seamus O’Rourke and members of the Backstage Theatre Group, to the traditional sounds of local group Cairde and the ‘yes we can’ attitude - that was furrowed from the onset - by Longford Leader’s Joe Flaherty, who was MC for the occasion; town and county mayor’s Peggy Nolan and Sean Farrell and the guest of honour, Michael Ring TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport summed it up thus:”Ye in Longford are not the hurlers on the ditch; ye are on the field playing for Longford and for Longford Slashers”.

The event also heard from a number of people throughout the county - volunteers in our communities who have worked together to come up with unique and meaningful events that will attract people from all over the world to Co Longford in 2013. Indeed it was Mayor Farrell who pointed to importance of the role of those people in the creation and development of the Gathering Ireland 2013 initiative, in the first instance. “They are the real heroes,” the Mayor added. “They have made a real and special sacrifice - they are the people who got involved in their communities and it is the community spirit here in Longford that makes this special.”

Geraldine Kane told of how a special Kane Gathering will take place in the county this year. She spoke of the origins of the family and their arrival in the south of Ireland from Derry to take up arms in the Battle of Kinsale. “Family members will come from all over the world - from Scotland and America.” she added. Cllr Gerry Warnock then spoke about his plans for the ‘Love Longford Festival’ that is guaranteed to entertain and delight the large crowds that are now expected over the course of the weekend next summer in the county town. Matt Farrell from Edgeworthstown also introduced the plans for his area in 2013. “We have decided to centre our celebrations around the Cemetery Sunday event,” he said, adding that people arrived back in Edgeworthstown from all over the world for it. “We will have a weekend of events that will include music, arts and literature, tours of Edgeworthstown and an American Wake.”

“It is you, the people of Longford who are driving what will be one of the best ‘Gatherings’ on this island,” Mayor Nolan then declared. “Everyone knows somebody from this little country of ours and all of the 130 events that have been organised in Co Longford in 2013 are worth attending. This may be one of the smallest counties in Ireland, but it has the people with the biggest hearts.” Check out www.longford.ie for more info.