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  • Scotland’s Homecoming reaches peak with Gathering, Diaspora Forum

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

    Scotland will welcome 8,000 members of its diaspora later this month for “The Gathering”,  the highlight of its Homecoming Scotland year. In Edinburgh on the weekend of July 23-25, there will be a gathering of 130 clans, a Highland Games festival, and a spectacular clan pageant called “Aisling’s Children”.

    The Scotsman newspaper reports that cynics may scoff, but cites the rewards of  Ireland’s cultivation of its diasporic links:

    For political and business leaders who want to see the country thrive, the bond between Scotland and its diaspora is not just culturally significant. As Ireland has demonstrated, properly fostered, the emotional ties could reap dividends for all involved. Over the last decade or so, the Irish government has explored ways in which the country can tap into the economic, intellectual and social bounty of its ex-pat community. One particularly successful initiative is the Irish Technology Leadership Group, which is comprised of Irish and Irish-Americans in senior positions in Silicon Valley willing to invest in Irish companies.

    There will also be a debate at the Scottish Diaspora Forum, open to the public, which will feature Scottish politicians, journalists, academics, and business people discussing the role of the diaspora in Scotland’s future. There will be a panel debate on whether the Scottish diaspora has a critical role to play in any potential new Scottish enlightenment. There will also be a “Dragon’s Glen” event, where several pitchers try to sell a panel ideas which would bring Scotland’s resident population of five million people together with its diaspora of 40 million people.

    Edited to add:

    Homecoming Scotland welcomes Scottish diaspora

    Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

    Deomonstrating the increasing efforts of nations to reach out to their global communities, Scotland is welcoming home its diaspora this year with a series of events comprising “Homecoming Scotland”. It’s Scotland’s first-ever “homecoming year”, and organisers are celebrating poet Robbie Burn’s 250th birthday as a focal point. They are also highlighting “some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations and Scotland’s rich culture and heritage.” It’s a dynamic programme: there’s a “Celtic Connections” programme featuring a concert of traditional songs that have crossed the Atlantic with Scottish and Irish emigrants over the last 300 years, as well as a Jamaican carnival celebrating Burns Night. The website also includes information on the contributions of the Ulster Scots around the globe. May will be “Whisky Month”. The world’s biggest clan gathering will take place in July in Edinburgh. There is also a “My Special Place” competition, inviting visitors to photograph their favourite place. The director of the Scottish Centre of Diaspora studies, Tom Devine, however, has criticised the event for focusing too heavily on the North American tourist market. Noting the scale of Scottish emigration throughout 700 years to mainland Europe and Ulster, Professor Devine told the Times,

    They should have had an over-arching umbrella statement about the sheer scale of migration. This was a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the world and to the Scottish people themselves what is a remarkable global experience. If you go back to the 13th century, right up to the present, the really enormous Scottish diaspora has been to Europe, but Europe hasn’t been invited to this.

    Professor Devine also noted, “American Scots have not retained the same level of expatriate ethnic identity as Irish Americans. They assimilated quickly.” Homecoming Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative managed by EventScotland in partnership with VisitScotland. Related links:

    Irish Diaspora in Scotland group launched

    Thursday, November 20th, 2008

    Irish organisations in Scotland are joining together to form a new umbrella group that will be launched this week. The group, the Irish Diaspora in Scotland Association,  is aimed at bringing together Irish groups with members from multiple generations of Irish emigrants and descendents.

    The IDSA includes among its members the following:

    Gaelic Athletic Association (Cumann Luthcleas Gael), Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann IrishTtraditional Music Association), Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge), Feis Glaschu, Celtic Supporters Association, St Patrick’s Festival Committee Coatbridge, Erin’s Ways Blantyre, An Sceal, Irish in Scotland History Group, Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, Coatbridge Irish Genealogy Project, Croy Historical Society, St Helen’s Irish Céilí Club Glasgow, Crois na Ceilti Set Dance Club, Glasgow Set Dance Club, Garngad Irish Heritage Group, Croy Welfare Development Trust An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelach and Comhdháil Na Rince Gaelacha.

    From their mission statement:

    The Irish Diaspora in Scotland Association (IDSA) exists to preserve, esteem, promote and celebrate the past and ongoing history and culture of Irish migrants and their offspring in Scotland. The Association endeavours to provide support, direction and articulation for organisations and individuals who recognise and value their Irish origins, heritage and identities whether born in Scotland, Ireland or elsewhere. Further, the Association exists to contribute to a society where all national and ethnic origins and identities are valued and treated with equality of respect, recognition and representation. To this end the Association seeks to contribute to the efforts of individuals and groups in Scotland who are against racial and religious prejudice.

    The group is being launched at a civic reception on Friday, 21 November 2008 in Glasgow City Chambers. The group says the launch will be attended by Irish government representatives, numerous MPs and local councillors, rerpresentatives from ethnic minority groups,  and members of the business, sporting and academic communities.

    See the group’s website at