Ireland Reaching Out
The Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) programme is based on a simple idea; instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, Ireland Reaching Out goes the other way. Working through voluntary effort at a townland, village and parish level in Ireland, Ireland Reaching Out identifies those who left and traces them and their descendants worldwide, proactively engaging with people and inviting them to become part of an extended “virtual” community with their place of origin. In this way, the entire Irish diaspora of 70 million people can be systematically reunified online and invited back or to engage with their ancestral parish at home.
This reverse genealogy entails the tracing and recording of all the people who left Donegal and seeking out their living descendants worldwide. Those identified or recognized as persons of Irish heritage or affiliation are invited to become part of a new extended Donegal society. The Ireland XO Programme offers an extraordinary opportunity for local parish communities to extend the numbers of people committed to their parish by inviting its own diaspora worldwide to become involved in their place of origin. The programme is now reaching out to Donegal to become part of the national movement and reaching out to the diaspora to visit our local communities. The national pilot project of Ireland XO was developed in South-East Galway from October 2010 through to July 2011 culminating in a hugely successful inaugural Week of Welcomes in late June. The project won the special award at the national for “Pride of Place” Awards in Nov 2011 and in February 2012 was voted the “Best Community” initiative nationally by the Local Authorities Members Awards (LAMA). The project was founded by entrepreneur Mike Feerick in 2009 and has been funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Heritage Council, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ireland Funds, Galway County Council, Galway Rural Development and Irish-American sources.