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Westport and Newport perfect sets for films

Westport and Newport provide perfect sets for films

Áine Ryan

WESTPORT has been getting so much publicity, it could be the scene for a film set. And, indeed, with at least two film crews wandering the streets, and enjoying the rich cosmopolitan culture of the town, it is lights, camera, action on every second corner.
By all accounts, former Riverdance star, Jean Butler enjoyed the busy traditional atmosphere of ceol agus craic in Matt Molloys over the weekend for her programme in the RTÉ and Animo Television series ‘The Gathering – Homeward Bound’, which kicks off tonight (Tuesday) with comedian Brendan Grace returning to his native Liberties in Dublin. Irish-American Butler’s mother was born in County Mayo.
Other celebrities featuring in the series are actress Fionnuala Flanagan, singer Bressie, Aussie Rules footballer, Tadhg Kennelly and former rugby player , Trevor Brennan. The series is part of RTÉ’s ongoing partnership with The Gathering Ireland 2013, and will be the second The Gathering-inspired show to air, after the Notre Dame versus Navy American football game aired live on August 31. Each celebrity will attempt to entice Irish people who are living abroad to come back to visit their hometown, as well as reuniting those who have lost touch with their Irish friends.
Meanwhile, NBC Chicago is in Mayo filming its 247 Secrets of the City Programme, to link in with The Gathering initiative also. Presented by Catie Keogh, whose grandfather hailed from Newport, the programme makers have already visited Nevin’s of Tiernaur where they were treated to the unique acapella singing of Coda and awarding-winning Newport butcher, Dominck Kelly of Newport.
They also spent time yesterday checking out the quirky jewellery and crafts in Westport’s O’Reilly and Turpin and are reportedly bound for Ashford Castle also. This Mayo programme will be aired after The Saturday Night Show around next year’s St Patrick’s Day.
Ring announcement
IN another related development, Minister for State, Michael Ring has      announced a partnership between The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Ireland Reaching Out.
He says this partnership will further enhance the Gathering Ireland tourist initiative that aims to bring 325,000 tourists to Ireland over the course of 2013.
The Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) programme is an award-winning national community  programme that works with parishes across Ireland to connect with their diaspora worldwide, enabling people to trace their roots to specific Irish parishes. It also provides a ‘Meet & Greet’ service.
“The partnership between The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Ireland XO provides a great opportunity for the millions of people who may have a relationship with Ireland to connect to the parishes across the country. I want to thank Ireland XO founder Mike Feerick for bringing this support to The Gathering Ireland 2013 initiative,” Minister Ring said.
Speaking at the announcement, Mike Feerick, the chairman of XO said: “Most communities in Ireland have locals who are happy to answer a query from the diaspora of their parish. By engaging with these volunteers, Ireland XO is building an invaluable national infrastructure that we hope will drive tourism and energy into every community. We are looking forward to working closely with The Gathering Ireland 2013 and fully support this initiative.”

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