The Gathering 2013: What’s in store for Kilkenny?


Unless you’ve taken up residence under a rock for the last few months, you probably know what The Gathering 2013 is. However, for those few stragglers who don’t, allow me to explain.

The Gathering is a government initiative which aims to bring family and friends from all over the world to Ireland for gatherings in every village, town and county.

Communities throughout the country have been organising events to showcase the best in Irish culture, and Kilkenny is no exception.

The Gathering in Kilkenny got underway on New Year’s Day with the 33rd annual Wellie Race in Castlecomer, where visitors from all corners of the globe were invited to take part in the race. However, this is far from the only thing organised in Kilkenny for 2013.

The next date to mark on your Gathering calendar is the 15th of March, where visitors will come together at Gáirdín an Ghorta to remember all those who lost their lives or were forced to emigrate due to the great famine. The garden, which was first opened by President Mary McAleese in 1999, is located at Newmarket in Kilkenny. Among celebrations at the event, there will be contemporary dance and music.

One of the biggest events planned in Kilkenny for The Gathering will take place on St Patrick’s Weekend with a specially organised ‘Tradfest’. As part of the festival, streets, pubs and hotels in Kilkenny will be transformed into venues for traditional music, song and dancing. A Ceilí Mór will be held in the city with a special performance from musicians from Colorado State University Marching Band and the Holroyd Youth Concert Band from New York City.

On March 22nd, The Crafts Council will mark the Kilkenny Design Workshops’ 50th anniversary with three contemporary craft and design exhibitions at the National Craft Gallery, including a special exhibition celebrating the legacy of the Kilkenny workshops.

The first weekend in April will see a special 3-day event being held in Kilkenny city called ‘Emigration through the centuries’. It will be a mix of lectures, day trips, entertainment and re-enactments. The event will be based in Kilkenny’s historic Rothe House and organisers have extended invitations to visitors from as far as New Zealand to attend.

The Kilkenny Musical Society will be doing it’s bit to support The Gathering with their production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. The Society are celebrating their 40th birthday this year and are inviting past members who are living abroad to return to Kilkenny for the event.

In May, The Gathering of Romantics will be held in Kilkenny to invite tourists who visited the city in the past to return for romantic breaks or to get married. The event will include a Love guru and matchmaker and there will also be competitions to celebrate romantic traditions.

As well as the annual Cat Laughs festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival, 2013 will be a busy summer for the Marble county. Among The Gathering events organised are ‘The Hurlers Return’ in Nowlan Park in July and The Jolly Good Motor Club Tour.

The Hurler’s Return will see over 40 visitors from Indianapolis Hurling Club descend on Kilkenny, where they will attend a training session with some of Kilkenny’s Senior Hurlers. There will also be a hurl making exhibition and a walking tour of Kilkenny City.

Probably the most random of events planned for the summer is the George Clooney Irish Roots Festival. This festival will take place in Tullahought in July and includes a book launch and genealogy lectures.

With all these events planned, we might not get a spare minute at all in 2013.

To see a full list of Gathering 2013 events in Kilkenny, you can visit the Gathering website at


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