The following is a copy of an email I received from the Ireland Reaching Out program. Sounds like they are on track for a fantastic “Week of Welcomes” in the parishes of south-east Galway…
We have been receiving an overwhelming amount of email from you over the last weeks and days as we ramp up the project and look forward to our inaugural Week of Welcomes 26th June-2nd July – a week of learning, heritage and fun.
Due to the volume of enquiries, we are not in a position right now to answer every individual query. We are a relatively small team, made up almost entirely of volunteers, and the immediate focus is on a successful pilot and rollout of the project in the South-East Galway area. With this email, we’d like to answer the most frequently asked questions.
What is the Ireland Reaching Out pilot project and when will it expand to other areas of Ireland?
The Ireland Reaching Out pilot project is primarily focused on making contact with our South-East Galway Diaspora, i.e. global emigrants and/or their descendants who left the area and inviting them to reconnect with their place of origin. Over the past year, over 40 local Irish parish communities have been working hard to find out who left their areas and have been helping us to create an online presence for each parish such that should you believe you are connected to a particular Irish parish, you can introduce yourself directly to the local Ireland Reaching Out team.
Due to the huge popularity of the project, we have experienced a great volume of queries relating to parts of Ireland outside of our initial focus. These are welcome, but right now, we must prioritize those queries which are made in connection to South-East Galway. You will, however, be pleased to know that it is anticipated that the Ireland XO will expand nationally in the second half of 2011. Should you be interested in becoming involved in a parish anywhere else in Ireland, you will be able to register your specific interest at that time.
How can I keep myself informed about the project and its progress?
- Every enquiry received is entered in our database so that you’ll automatically receive our newsletter and can keep up-to-date with how the project is progressing.
- Please visit the Press page which is regularly updated with the latest press releases, newsletters, training initiatives, media appearances and press articles: http://www.irelandxo.org/?q=content/press-and-media
- And you can also follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/irelandreachingouthomepage
How can I help spread the word about the Week of Welcomes June 26th-July2nd?
The Week of Welcomes will become an annual fixture in every parish’s calendar in Ireland – help us to spread the word about the inaugural event in South-East Galway this June. The website is continuously being updated as we confirm more details but one thing is for sure: it will be a visit to remember!
- The brochure with all details can be found here: http://www.irelandxo.org/sites/www.irelandxo.org/files/pdf-docs/IRO%20Brochure.pdf
- Attached to this email is an image of our international poster — let us know if you have a great place to hang one and we’ll post/mail one to you (don’t forget to let us have your address!)
- Tell all your friends, relatives, work colleagues, acquaintances about it and direct them to the online booking form here: http://www.irelandxo.org/?q=node/add/booking-form
Can I attend the Inaugural Week of Welcomes June 26th-July2nd?
The quick answer is that yes you can! Even if you are not connected to South-East Galway but priority is been given those with local South-East Galway roots and those with surnames such as Kelly, Burke, Fahy and Madden which are native to the area (see the 1855 Griffith’s Valuation list of most common surnames in the pilot area here – scroll to bottom of page: http://www.irelandxo.org/?q=content/about-us). A small number of places in each parish is reserved for people of Irish Heritage who would like to come along and enjoy the local Irish welcome for this very historic event. If you would like to attend but have no specific link to South-East Galway, please let us know. The event will covered by local and international media.
I am interested in tracing my ancestors – can you help me to do this?
If you are trying to trace your ancestors to Ireland, the Ireland Reaching Out Project can certainly help you once it is rolled out Ireland-wide later this year. What we offer is a connection to your parish(es) of origin where local people (possibly relatives!) who have volunteered as part of the project will be keen to assist. One of the remarkable aspects of this project is that when you have a community of people assisting you to trace your ancestors, the process is way quicker!
If you don’t know your parish of origin, knowing the county of origin will help. If you don’t know this – but simply know your people are from Ireland – then please have patience, because we are possibly going to get to you from the other direction – all in good time however. If you have some information about your family, but are unsure of where they come from, we will give you the opportunity to register that information later on this year. For now, help us to help you by letting people know about this project which in turn will help the project to scale up. Through your help, we can systematically reunify the entire Irish Diaspora. Even if you are a “John Kelly” of Irish roots, working together, we will one day find out who you really are!
I would like to get involved in the project — how do I volunteer? And what skills are you looking for?
We have had many offers of assistance for which we are very grateful. We are keeping track of every offer of assistance and even if we do not get back to you straight away, please bear with us as our central organization is strengthened in the coming months. You can sign-up and tell us about your skills and areas of interest here: http://www.irelandxo.org/?q=content/join-our-team.
In the area of Loughrea, Co Galway, we are looking for people with professional IT, web, management, research, strategic development, financial, marketing, PR and event-organization skills. Further afield, we are looking for volunteers to assist with the online management of local Irish parish websites, something that can be done as easily from Australia, UK or the USA as from the West of Ireland!
Thank you for your continued interest, offers of help, ideas and support! If you have family and friends with an interest in Ireland, please let them know about the exciting project!
The Ireland XO Team
Project Administrator – Ireland Reaching Out
South-East Galway Diaspora Pilot Project
25, Dunkellin Street, Loughrea, Co. Galway