Distinctive in their lime green bibs, the intrepid Gathering Greeters were a welcome addition to the Mullingar and Athlone St Patricks Day festivities.
Operating in teams throughout the day, the Greeters were in constant demand especially for visitors to the two towns on the day.
The initiative is being rolled out by Gathering Westmeath Steering Group, and the Westmeath Volunteer Centre, managed by Westmeath Community Development.
This was the first outing for the greeters, and they will feature at a number of different events throughout the year as part of the Gathering. There are now over 50 gathering events scheduled for the county, with more being added all the time. Bob Morrison, Chairperson of Westmeath Gathering Steering Group expressed his thanks to the volunteers “having local people, on the street, with a good knowledge of what’s on in and about Mullingar is a great service for visitors to the town. We hope to build on the success of today at various other events in the county during this year of the Gathering”
The Gathering Greeters Coordinator, Dave Raftis, expressed his satisfaction with how they day went “obviously we were a bit apprehensive beforehand, but the response from the public was very positive, and the volunteers were visible throughout the day and dealt with a variety of requests and queries during the day”.
Ian O’Flynn, one of the greeters on the day, and also the Manager of Westmeath Volunteer Centre, who were responsible for recruiting the volunteers greeters, noted “that it was great to be part of this first outing for the greeters. Some people though us a bit of a novelty, but we got a very good reception and we were pleasantly surprised at the numbers of visitors and locals seeking our assistance on the day”.
Michael Brady of Failte Ireland, who are a key driver of the Gathering, both home and abroad, noted “the Gathering Ireland are delighted with this initiative it’s one of the first in the country. The importance of the Gathering Greeters cannot be underestimated as they will give our overseas visitors first hand knowledge of all things to do and see in the county. This should ensure that our overseas visitors have a very memorable experience of their stay in Westmeath and will hopefully return to the county in the future”.
For further information on the Gathering, and to find out whats happening on your area this year, or to get your event included, go to www.thegatheringireland.com . If you need volunteers for your event, or would like to become a Gathering Greeter, contact Ian or Michelle in Westmeath Volunteer Centre, Westmeath Community Development at 0449348571, or go to www.westcd.ie.