This year is to be Ireland’s Family History Year, according to Tourism Ireland.
The agency is hoping to encourage up to 10 million British people to find out more about their Irish ancestry.
Hundreds of clan gatherings and genealogy and local history events are planned all over the island have been folded into the Gathering initiative.
With as many as one in six British people claiming an Irish grandparent, Tourism Ireland launched it at last week’s Who Do You Think You Are Live at Earls Court Olympia Exhibition Centre in London. The main event was attended by 12,000 people.
Tourism Ireland also posted a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/IrelandFamilyHistory) for people to share stories and learn more about their Irish roots and keep people updated on special events.
Tourism Ireland’s Mark Henry said: “This year is a very special year in Ireland as people all over the country are putting on special events to welcome home those with Irish heritage.
“We have called it “The Gathering – Ireland’s Family History Year.
“The year kicks off with a drop-in Irish Family History Centre in Dublin that will run for the duration of Saint Patrick’s Festival in March.
“The year’s programme of clan gatherings and local history talks will then continue right through to October when Ireland’s largest genealogy event “Back To Our Past” takes place.
“This year we are inviting the ten million British people with Irish ancestry to visit Ireland, learn more about their heritage and explore the places their ancestors came from.
“For those with a deeper interest in their ancestry, there are more talks, seminars and clan gatherings in 2013 than there ever have been before.”
The clan gatherings schedule includes the International Gathering of the O’Neill Clans in Dungannon which will recreate the crowning of the King of Ulster and the Gallagher Clan Gathering will attempt to break the world record by assembling 5,000 Gallaghers in the one place in County Donegal.
There will also be the “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary Festival” with an International Churn Dairy Maids Races, said Tourism Ireland.
In 2012, an estimated 7.27 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of approximately €3.51 billion. Tourists from overseas account for 59 per cent of all Irish tourism revenue.
More background on the Family History Year initiative can be found at http://www.facebook.com/IrelandFamilyHistory and http://www.ireland.com/en-gb/articles/whats-available/genealogy-and-ancestry/family-history-year-about