On Wednesday May 1st, the Sligo County Diaspora Strategy 2019 - 2024 was launched in City Hall. The launch comes after a comprehensive strategy was compiled in collaboration with Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon County Councils. The process began in 2017 when the local authorities in the region identified a need to develop a strategy in line with the National Government Strategy - Global Irish.
Sligo County Diaspora Strategy 2019 - 2024 was launched in City Hall.
The document outlines a number of actions, providing a structured framework within which Sligo can develop the relationship and engagement with Sligo People across the globe.
Officially launching the document, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Martin Baker, commented on the impact the Sligo Diaspora has made worldwide, “So many Sligo people, raised and educated in the land of heart’s desire, have gone on to achieve great things, and it is vital we keep their connection to their Sligo roots alive. The determination and success of Sligo people on a national and international stage has made us extremely proud, as families, as communities and as a county. While our wish is that some day they will return, we know this cannot always be achieved. This Strategy aims to identify how we can encourage them to keep in touch, visit, or perhaps, in time, invest.”
Chief executive of Sligo County Council, Ciarán Hayes, also spoke to the crowed Chamber audience, reflecting on the many connections Sligo has developed through multiple international organizations such as Comhaltas, the GAA and the Sligo Chamber. He acknowledged Sligo’s global offering and reminded guests that the launch took place in tandem with the Business Networking Event “Sligo Comes to London”, hosted by the Sligo London Network, strongly supported by the Sligo Chamber. “As we speak, preparations are underway in London ahead of the business networking event ‘Sligo Comes to London’, where companies from across the UK will have the opportunity to see just what it is Sligo has to offer. This simple display of collaborative teamwork reflects the aims of our Diaspora Strategy, engaging with Sligo communities worldwide, for the betterment of the county.”
The term ‘Diaspora’ is largely affiliated with Mary Robinson and her presidency is attributed with strengthening the connection between Irish people at home and abroad, which was also acknowledged by the Chief Executive. “Upon her election as Ireland’s first female President, Mary Robinson famously displayed a candle in the kitchen window of Áras an Úachtaráin, a symbolic gesture acknowledging the Irish Diaspora, welcoming them to return home. As we officially launch the County Sligo Diaspora Strategy, a similar symbolism is depicted on the front cover, Oyster Island Lighthouse. Alight in Sligo Bay since 1837, it has witnessed emigration through famine and recession. It stands as Sligo’s candle in the bay,
acknowledging our Diaspora as we seek to engage with them in a more structured manner, and encourage them to return their roots to live, to invest or visit.”
Cathaoirleach of the Sligo GAA County Board, Brendan Leonard, was a guest speaker at the launch. He took this opportunity to acknowledge the sporting influence of the Sligo Diaspora, reflecting on All Ireland Championship trips to New York and London, which stand as lucrative fundraisers for the GAA in Sligo. He commented on the Diasporas connection to home and their desire to support local clubs and communities in order to strengthen their connection to home.
Following the address from the Chair of the GAA County Board, the second guest speaker, Chairperson of the Sligo County Board of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Martin Enright, followed in a similar theme and reflected on the influence of the traditional music community at home and abroad. He firstly acknowledged significance of the location of the launch, as the historic City Hall Chamber hosted one of Sligo’s first feiseanna, adjudicated by Pádraig Pearse and Douglas Hyde. He continued to acknowledge the manner in which Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has developed to become an international organistation, with a strong affiliation to the Sligo Diaspora, mentioning many of the great Sligo musicians past and present who have made those journeys. “Feiseanna are now hosted in locations across the globe, promoting and enhancing Irish culture through music, song, dance and language. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is one of Ireland’s most significant events for the Diaspora as they return home to connect with their cultural roots at an event attended by some 480,000 people.”
Concluding the event, Senior Executive Officer and Master of Ceremonies, Margaret McConnell, thanked the team who worked to produce the strategy, under the directorship of Dorothy Clarke. She also thanked Local Authorities in Roscommon, Leitrim and Longford who worked with Mark Conway of Venturei consultants to form the strategy.
The Strategy can be viewed in full on the Sligo County Council website and any enquiries can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.