From David McWilliams – The invite that we should all be clamouring to send:
Last year after Farmleigh, Feerick came to me and suggested we organise and enable local Irish communities at a townland, village and parish level to find out who was born in their area, where they went, and trace them and their descendants worldwide?
That way, he suggested, we could systematically reunify our entire diaspora, creating “virtual communities”, expanding each local parish beyond its own physical boundaries and allowing people to reach out across the world.
It isn’t hard to see the common sense and power of deploying local, rather than national, resources to galvanise the global Irish tribe.
So began the development of a simple idea — something we could call ‘micro-diaspora’. The idea we had was rather than build a top-down structure with experts, we should provide the platform for ordinary people to do it for themselves.
In a sense we are inverting the pyramid. Rather than working from the apex, for example networking the top 500 more important Irish Americans, we are doing the opposite — operating around the base of the diaspora pyramid.
When you think about it, the Irish diaspora may be 60 to 70 million worldwide but it can be broken down to perhaps no more than 3,000 Irish parishes north and south.
What if each village in Ireland could harness the economic power of its diaspora? What if, as a nation, we mobilised each parish in Ireland to actively research its genealogical past and identify those people who are of its own flesh and blood and reach out and engage their interest? This local-based approach is what, in another context, made the GAA one of the strongest organisations in the country. It is local pride that motivates people to work together in national competitions like the Tidy Towns.
Once the people are contacted they are invited back to their home parish for a week of welcomes. The Loughrea initiative is up and running and already the first Irish Americans have been contacted out of the blue and they have signed up to come “home” for this year’s first week of welcomes (http://bit.ly/gA6Ght).