“Ireland Reaching Out”
Earlier this year the Department of Foreign Affairs announced a grant awarded to something called the South East Galway Diaspora Project. Very little information was publicly available, but today an article appeared in the Irish Independent clarifying what this project is about.
You can read it here.
In essence the initiative turns the diaspora strategy of recent years on it’s head. Rather than seeking ways of encouraging the diaspora to re-engage with Ireland, the SE Galway project reverses the approach and looks to reach outwards, from Ireland. The basic principle is that each local parish community will ‘research its genealogical past and identify those people who are of its own flesh and blood and reach out and engage their interest’.
The pilot stage is being launched in Loughrea tomorrow evening (Thursday 28th October), and 30 local parishes have been invited to participate in the project. Their target – to find 44,000 of the diaspora with a family link back to the Loughrea electoral area, and to attempt to attract 25-30 of those back for a visit to their ancestral parish or townland next year.
The third goal of the pilot moves more towards the economic sector in that it aims ‘to identify, among the 44,000, approximately 500 enterprising members of the Tribe who can be buyers, advisers, investors and influencers for the benefit of not just the locality but the Irish nation as a whole’.
Personally I find the concept of this project a complete breath of fresh air. Hats off to David McWilliams, Mike Feerick, and the others involved for realising that the relationship between Ireland and it’s diaspora is a two-way street and doing something about it.
The diaspora has always had a sense of Ireland and it’s relevance to their heritage, and with projects like this we may yet reach the stage where 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th generation Irish visiting Ireland truly get the feeling they are being welcomed home.
Once again well done guys, and hopefully everyone will get on board with this and help drive it forward.