Wednesday 21st July 2021
One of Ireland’s leading diaspora initiatives is today launching a new network of regional Irish partners to connect those of Irish heritage abroad with their places of origin. Ireland Reaching Out, which has more than 150,000 members worldwide, wants to team up with local organisations to help drive regional tourism as part of the economic recovery. One of the first organisations to join the network is the Tower Museum which will cover the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Down, Armagh and Antrim.
Ireland Reaching Out plans to build on the surge in people tracing their Irish roots during the lockdowns and who now wish to travel to Ireland as the country starts to reopen. To support this expected influx of Irish Diaspora tourists to Ireland, the Irish Partner Network of Ireland Reaching Out has been established. This new network of regionally-based partners aims to improve the service offered to diaspora as they visit Ireland – both north and south. Three key groups – Tower Museum, Visit Castlebar and Ballyhoura Development CLG — have already joined and Ireland Reaching Out is now seeking other interested regional heritage and tourism groups to join.
Established in 2010, Ireland Reaching Out is a volunteer-driven, non-profit organisation connecting people of Irish heritage with the local community in their place of origin in Ireland. It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and is based in County Galway. This unique charity offers anyone from anywhere in the world with Irish roots the chance to connect with the community they have descended from by engaging with locals on the ground and online through its online platform – IrelandXO.com Members avail of free advice from a large team of volunteers, helping them to trace their roots and connect with their Irish place of origin.
Ireland Reaching Out has sought partners who are leaders in heritage and tourism in their regions. Each Network Partner will provide support to Ireland Reaching Out volunteers in a number of surrounding counties in order to increase engagement with the diaspora in those areas. The first three partnerships established are:·
Tower Museum – which will cover the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Down, Armagh and Antrim
Visit Castlebar – which will cover the counties of: Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim, and Donegal
Ballyhoura Development CLG – which will cover the counties of Cork, Kerry and Limerick.
Laura Colleran, Ireland Reaching Out Programme Manager, says:“Our network of regional partners will provide assistance and support to the many Ireland Reaching Out Volunteers across the island of Ireland. It will also ensure that those visiting Ireland for the first time to trace their roots in Ireland have a better chance to engage with the locals living in their communities of origin in Ireland.”With volunteer help, they may get to see the homestead of their Irish forebearers, walk the land their people farmed before leaving Ireland, see the graves of their ancestor and, if possible, get to meet living relatives in Ireland. As we emerge from COVID restrictions and look to develop creative solutions that re-ignite tourism, IrelandXO is an important diaspora engagement resource for the whole country.”
Bernadette Walsh, Archivist at Tower Museum, says:“The Tower Museum has a very similar outlook to Ireland Reaching Out. We are very much about sustainability, promoting our genealogy and archive collections to encourage people to access and engage with our programmes and to promote tourism to the local areas. We are unique in that we are the only local authority archive service in Northern Ireland outside of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast. We get a lot of people visiting that want to investigate their own family history as well as research students, academics and film companies. “As part of Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Tower Museum is strongly associated with the Council’s region, we will be working with partners and volunteers all across Northern Ireland to promote the wider region as part of this project with Ireland Reaching Out. Ideally, we will eventually have partners joining from all across the island of Ireland to build on the momentum.”
If you are interested in volunteering, becoming (or supporting) a regional partner, please contact Ireland Reaching Out at firstname.lastname@example.org