SMR Column: Proud to be supporting the Mayo "Gathering"


Just under two weeks ago I was proud to be awarded Lib Dem MP of the Year for my work with ethnic and minority communities. I’m delighted to be able to carry on that work this week by taking in part in The Gathering.

Throughout 2013, Ireland is opening its arms to hundreds of thousands of friends and family from all over the world, calling them home to gatherings in villages, towns and cities.
There are clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events, music and concerts taking place all across the country, all year long. Over 70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry.

The Gathering Ireland 2013 provides the perfect excuse to reach out to those who have moved away, their relatives, friends and descendants, and invite them home.
Communities throughout Ireland are showcasing and sharing the very best of Irish culture, tradition, business, sport, fighting spirit and the uniquely Irish sense of fun.
Manchester and Ireland have always shared a special connection and the positive impact the Irish community have had on Manchester is unquestionable.

Manchester is the number one destination for people flying from the West of Ireland and thousands have travelled from the West to make Manchester their home over the years.
This year, The Gathering will make those links even stronger.

So I’m travelling over to Ireland to be a part of it. I’m launching the North Mayo Gathering which I understand is the biggest in the country, taking place from 1st to 9th August.

Flying into Knock on Thursday I’m delighted to have been invited to launch the Gathering, with over 120 events and an expected 100,000 people expected to attend it’s sure to be a big one! The North Mayo Gathering has been organised by Mancunians with over 150 performers flying in from Manchester to take part! Last week I met Boyzone and Corrie legend Keith Duffy at Manchester Airport to promote the Gathering.

The Festival is not just about welcoming back people of Irish descent back. Everyone is welcome (including me) to join in regardless of where they come from.

One thing I’m really looking forward to tipping off the Gaelic Football game between Manchester’s St Lawrence’s and Mayo’s Bonniconlon on Friday afternoon. I’ve been told it will be a tightly contested game which could go either way; I just hope my name doesn’t appear on the subs bench as I don’t fancy my chances in bringing home the glory for Manchester!


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