Report on The Gathering

“Mayo North  Gathering Festival”

The action packed North Mayo Gathering Festival took place from 1st – 9th August 2013. Over a hundred individual events and several “all week” activities and attractions made “The Gathering” a wonderful success.

The festival provided a wide range of entertainment for returning emigrants, visitors and the local people of the towns and villages of North Mayo.

“The Gathering” committee in Attymass were delighted with the success of their first ever festival. The opening evening of the gathering was held in the Fr. Peyton Centre where a great crowd assembled and enjoyed  a festive afternoon of food, speeches and music.  Speakers on the evening were :-

1. Cllr. John O,Malley, Cathaoirleach Mayo Co. Council

2. Fr. Mulligan,  Attymass Parish Priest and a member of the Attymass gathering committee

3. Johnny O’Malley Mayor Ballina Urban council

4. Mr John Leech M.P. Manchester who is the Tourism spokesperson for the Lib Dem coalition Government

5. Tony Hennigan,  Manchester Mayo Gathering

6. Mr Rob Dwyer, President of the Pittsfield – Ballina sister city committee

7. Vincent Roche, Chairperson Mayo North Gathering

8. Margaret Smyth, Currower/ Leeds who read a poem she had penned for the occasion.

9.  Deputy Michelle Mulherin T.D. who officially opened  the Mayo North Gathering Festival.

Della Ginley, manager of the Fr. Peyton Centre was the MC for the evening

Following the formalities a social gathering of overseas visitors, visitors from other parts of the country and local people was enjoyed. The evening then led into further entertainment with a ” Seisiún” of traditional Irish Music.

Sunday was a big day for the parish of Attymass starting with a Welcome Home Mass in the parish church celebrated by Fr. Mulligan and both the junior and senior choirs participated. In the afternoon the revived Bonnifinglas Sports were held. The glorious weather added to the event and a large crowd attended. The victory of the Mayo team over Donegal put the “icing on the cake” A great afternoon was had by all!

The programme for the week included tours, historical walks, talks, fishing, pub entertainment, traditional music and dancing, novelty & children events.   A featured event was the famous annual Bonniconlon  Agricultural show and Gymkhana  where over 30,000 people attended. This was an outstanding day with a great turnout in all classes and exhibitors from all over Ireland.

Tuesday 6th August was a big reunion day in the Fr. Peyton Centre. The programme for day included Mass, Lunch and entertainment for emigrants, visitors, relatives, friends and our regular Tuesday Group.

The visitors were spoiled for choice with a variety of programmes spread through the North Mayo region. These included the Pearse Street Reunion (Ballina), a concert in the Art Centre, an eviction pageant in Straide, the Admiral Brown Show in Foxford  – just to name a few. Also the museums, visitors centre, art centres and the renowned Jackie Clarke collection were open to the public.

The nine day Gathering extravaganza concluded with a very special Gathering event hosted at the Downhill House Hotel which featured a Gathering Gala Dinner. The special Guess and keynote speaker for the night was  –  former President of Ireland, current UN Special Envoy and a native of Ballina – Mary Robinson.

The Gathering was a great success and was much enjoyed by emigrants, visitors and local people. Much credit is due to the organising committees in the various towns and villages. Also to Vincent Roche, chairperson of the Mayo North Gathering Festival.