Gathering a huge success as village bustled with activity over three days

·4 min read

Killaloe – The Irish Gathering was back and in a big way as Station Park in the downtown core bustled with activity and people came to the village to visit, enjoy some good music, celebrate heritage and just have fun.

“This is a place to gather, see old friends, enjoy some music and have fun,” said Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards Community Development Coordinatoir Chris Neff on Monday following the weekend of activities.

Although named the Irish Gathering and celebrating the Irish history of Killaloe and the connections of many of the early families to Ireland, this wasn’t just about being Irish, he noted.

“It is a celebration of music, culture and heritage,” he said.

For some people it is a chance to come back to the area and reunite with friends and family. For others, it was a chance to just enjoy being outside on a glorious hot summer weekend, enjoy activities with the kids and listen to great music.

Mr. Neff said the Gathering was especially welcome for many after a two-year COVID pandemic created a hiatus.

“This is our big event for Killaloe,” he said. “And for me personally, and our team, everything went as well as it could go.”

There was a big team behind the event with various individuals and organizations lending support, he said.

“So many people from various organizations helped,” he said. “This is a true community event. The organizing team and the public works department did a great job.”

With activities at different venues, most of the fun was headquartered at Station Park. Mr. Neff pointed out he took an aerial shot of the park to see each inch of space was capitalized on with activities for children and families, including the highlight of great music all weekend.

“The Leahy Family and The County Lads were really great; well, all the music was great,” he said.

People seemed to really respond to the music and the opportunity to “cut loose” a bit after not being as comfortable gathering in crowds during the last two years.

“The carnival was a big hit with the kids,” he noted, pointing out while there had been some smaller events for kids in the past, the carnival was very popular.

Mr. Neff said it was good to see the village so busy with people coming to the Gathering all weekend.

“Every time you can bring people to the area it is good for the whole community,” he said.

People who visit for the Gathering are apt to come back for other events, he pointed out.

“This is more than just a three-day event; it is putting Killaloe on the map,” he said.

While the village is a small one, it is known for putting on some great big events, like Canada Day and the Gathering.

“A lot of people were saying it is extremely impressive a small village does this,” he said.

Mr. Neff believes it is all part of the tradition that makes Killaloe a special place.

“Killaloe’s spirit is bigger than its square footage,” he noted. “Being smaller, you all come together and rely on your neighbour.

“It goes back to the DNA of the area,” he maintains.

While the municipality receives grant funding for Canada Day, this event was done without grant funding. However, the budget from the missed 2021 Gathering was added to the 2022 Gathering to make it a reality, he explained.

“We had twice the budget because we added the budget from last year,” he said.

The event was free, and this is especially important in these tough economic times, he added. Attendance was good with people with local connections and many visitors over the weekend.

“A lot of people have been coming to this since the start and they keep coming,” he said.

For those looking for the next big event in the little community that could, it won’t be long. The Loggers Festival will be held on September 17. While traditionally it was a winter event, it has been moved to September to make it easier for participants.

“We love our community, and we love our events,” he said.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader