Yesterday, I threw down some thoughts on The Gathering.
In a very thoughtful response, one of my readers made the point that the elephant in the room is money. Or, rather, the lack of it. He’s right, of course. Most of the things I suggested would require money. I’m no economist, though, but even I know that in order to make money, one must first spend money. You reap what you sow, so in order to reap anything, one must first sow something, no?
I take Padraic’s point that The Gathering was meant to be a community-based initiative, but I think a bit of orchestrated direction from the Government might not have hurt. In the same way that certain charities have events that take place at a very local level (often a few friends in someone’s kitchen around a pot of tea) but are orchestrated from the head office. Packs are sent out to interested parties to help them organise their events and they are invited to get on the Facebook page and share stories and photos etc.
Wouldn’t something like that have been possible?
Nearly every town in Ireland is twinned with a town abroad. Would it not have been a good idea to encourage locals in each town to write to people in their twinned town and invite them to come and stay for a while? How much money would that have cost? Very little, I’d imagine.
Think, too, about other communities we have links with. The Spanish that we share DNA with – invite them over. Have an Irish dance school invite over a Flamenco dance school and offer to ‘swap’ Flamenco dance lessons for Irish dance lessons.
Invite the Nordics back to see the legacy they left – show them the difference the Vikings made.
Have an academic/quasi-academic conference with speakers of Manx, Welsh, Scottish and Breton examine the commonalities of the languages. Forge links that people will want to examine and explore and re-visit for years to come.
Suggest that scout groups invite other scout groups over for a massive jamboree – the likes of which haven’t been seen since the one in Galway in 1985 or so.
Don’t get me wrong. I think anything that brings more tourists to Ireland is a great idea. I just can’t help feeling that The Gathering is a bit half-assed and that not much – or not enough – thought has gone into it.
In the interests of showing myself to be more than an armchair critic, I am happy to reveal that my contribution to The Gathering will be to take my kids to parts of they country they haven’t visited yet.