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The Gathering for Offaly - London Calling!

Published: 5th February 2013

Last Saturday night 2nd Feb, Offaly had a 15 minute videoconference link from Rhode (over three large screens in Killeen’s Village Bar and Lounge) to London, for the occasion of the Annual Dinner of the one of the Offaly Associations in London, at the London Irish Centre.

 The online appointment was arranged a couple of weeks earlier stemming from discussions at the last meeting of the Steering Group of Offaly, as to how Offaly could effectively launch the Offaly Gatherings / Calendar of Events to some of the Offaly Community in the UK.

As is the way of these things coming together, the date of the London event was around the time the Steering Group expected the physical leaflet of the Calendar of Events to be finalised, and Rhode footballers would also be travelling to London for the game on Sunday 3rd Feb. Following technical preparation and testing over the week running up to the 2nd, the actual live link from Rhode to London became possible.

Large crowds on both sides attended each venue. In Offaly, the local MC was Jody Gunning, and he briefly outlined the wide range of Offaly activities for The Gathering and introduced some representatives of Offaly Gathering flagship events. Cllr Liam Quinn (Leas Cathaoirleach of Offaly Co Co) spoke of the pride that Offaly has in the county response to The Gathering, and commended the energy and enthusiasm of all the groups and agencies involved.

People in London were happy to hear about the myriad of Gathering events taking place in Offaly. Some informal speeches - including a bit of banter - were delivered from both sides, and many people extended invitations from the Community here to their London links, to come and visit for The Gathering.

Cllr. Peter Ormond from Offaly Co Co was present at the dinner in London, was then called upon to launch The Gathering/Calendar of Events for Offaly, in his role as Cathaoirleach of Offaly Co Co, and Chair of the Steering Group for The Gathering for Offaly, with a few well place words, and a countdown to three cheers for The Gathering for Offaly, and Cllr Quinn coordinated the same on this side. The Junior Choir from Rhode concluded the event by a fabulous rendition of Ireland's Call, singing their hearts out to London, for Offaly.

All went well and both locations were delighted in playing their part in launching The Gatherings for Offaly and overall Calendar of Events for the county (to date). Particular thanks are due to Peter Hynes (Offaly Association) and the venue management and technical staff at the London Irish Centre; to Colm Killeen and family for their support to the Offaly side of the activity; to the speechmakers and greeters from Offaly who explained to London what The Gathering is all about; to Gathering and IT staff from Offaly County Council re the link and to Shannon Development and Offaly Local Development Company who assisted in compiling the overall physical calendar of events . Special thanks are made to all the Gathering communities who are putting such a huge effort into developing events for Offaly.

A further boost to the event for Offaly is expected as Aer Lingus have advised they are incorporating the public art project - commissioned by Offaly County Council - of the documentary film ' a Very Grand Canal' into their transatlantic schedule of in flight entertainment in March and April, to promote The Gathering.

The County very much look forward to Offaly being featured in such a way, and are delighted to present significant county attractions to such an international audience.

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