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Ireland invites its descendants 'home'

Ireland is inviting those with Irish roots to return for a visit to their home country.

The Gathering 2013 is a celebration of Irish culture, heritage and history that plays out not as a singular event but a series of initiatives targeting the more than 70 million people worldwide who claim Irish ancestry.

Two main activities are on the docket: reunions with family and friends and festivals celebrating music, dance, literature and other aspects of Irish culture.

Residents of Ireland are encouraged to get on board with the celebrations, in part as a way to shift focus from the economic gloom of the past several years. As hosts of gatherings, they are encouraged to reach out and reconnect with old friends.

Traditional events tend to draw many tourists, and in 2013, staples on the country’s annual cultural calendar will be organized with The Gathering in mind.

IrishCentral.com lists these among its top picks: Temple Bar TradFest in January; Writers Week in Listowel, County Kerry, in May; and the Galway Arts Festival and the Killarney Summer Fest, both in July.

Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will have a new twist next year as well: 8,000 tourists will join the marchers. Advance registration is required. Those who want more details should visit St. Patrick's Festival.

To be part of Ireland’s biggest tourism initiative to date, book flights early and save. Aer Lingus serves Germany with flights to Dublin from Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich; flights also are available between Munich and Cork. Italian cities with direct flights to Dublin on Aer Lingus include Catania, Naples, Rome, Venice and Verona. Ryanair operates numerous routes between European cities and Ireland.

Go to The Gathering 2013 for additional information.

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About the Author

Karen Bradbury has lived and worked in Europe for more than fifteen years. She has called Moscow, Copenhagen, Rome and now a small wine-producing village along the Rhine in Germany home. When she's not working, whatever the season, she's probably traveling.

Email: bradburyk@estripes.osd.mil