35,000 Americans in Ireland this weekend as ‘Emerald Isle Classic’ will be €100M tourism boost - Varadkar

  • American College Football game to build on Tall Ships tourism success
  • Minister also confirms details for 2013 Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve Festival & Cork Choral Festivals
The arrival of 35,000 US college football fans in the Aviva Stadium this weekend for the Emerald Isle classic football game represents a massive tourism boost for Ireland worth some €100 million for the economy, according to Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.
Speaking ahead of the game between Notre Dame and Naval College, Minister Varadkar said it follows the huge success of the Tall Ships Festival and will provide a unique opportunity to market The Gathering Ireland 2013 to the US market.
“The Gathering Ireland is the title sponsor of the Emerald Isle Classic, which will showcase one of the finest sporting traditions in American college football. The largest ever group of US sport fans for a stand-alone sporting event outside the US will travel to the game, which promises to be spectacular and which sold out within two hours,” Minister Varadkar
“I’m delighted that this high-profile game is associated so closely with The Gathering Ireland 2013, which will be promoted intensively to the 35,000 travelling Americans, and to a US TV audience of some three million on CBS and ESPN. The Gathering is spending more than €600,000 on sponsoring and marketing this game and inviting people to be part of the celebrations next year.”
The Emerald Isle Classic represents a massive tourism opportunity with hundreds of fans building Irish holidays around the games, including golfing breaks around Ireland. Colourful pep rallies with music and entertainment will be held in Dublin. A separate college football tournament involving 12 American colleges and high schools will be held in Parnell Park, Donnybrook Stadium, and Pairc Tailteann in Navan, providing further entertainment from Thursday through to Saturday. It also represents a great opportunity to promote The Gathering Ireland 2013, which will be visible through branding and publicity throughout the weekend.
Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring added: ‘The Gathering Ireland has been gaining momentum nationwide with almost 2,000 participating in 11 community meetings to date around the country, sharing ideas for Gatherings in their communities, and exploring how they can be part of the event. Up to 50 community meetings are planned for autumn as preparations for 2013 gather pace’.
Minister Varadkar also announced details of three key festivals next year which will be specially enhanced for the Gathering Ireland 2013 calendar:
New Year’s Eve Festival
The Gathering Ireland will kick off with an expanded New Year’s Eve Festival. Visitors will be invited to join in a torchlit procession, and a major fireworks display will be staged in the skies over St Stephen’s Green. The family programme will be enhanced, and cutting-edge three-dimensional projections will be staged over three days culminating in the New Year’s Eve countdown.
Dublin St Patrick’s Day Parade
Up to 8,000 overseas visitors will take part in Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade next year for the first time ever as part of the year-long Gathering Ireland 2013 celebration.
Cork International Choral Festival
The Cork International Choral Festival is aiming to recruit more overseas choirs for their prestigious and world renowned festival in 2013.
Further details of the Gathering festivals and events programme will be announced later in the year. In the meantime, the Gathering website www.thegatheringireland.com includes details of the hundreds of exciting Gatherings which are being organised in 2013 by communities, organisations and individuals around the country. Over 250 such events have already been confirmed for 2013.
Issued by the Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: Contact:  (01) 6041090/ (01) 6041087
Nick Miller 086 6992080
Note for Editors
The Gathering Ireland 2013 will run throughout next year and aims to persuade people around the world to visit Ireland for events that have been organised by individuals, clubs, societies, communities and national organisations. It’s currently being promoted internationally as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Ireland and explore connections old and new.
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