DUBLIN — It was an infectiously festive afternoon in the city. Strolling along the streets of the Northside, Dubliners dashed around for last-minute holiday shopping, all doused in a seasonal mix of merriment and mist. A few streets away at Áras Fáilte, the nerve center of Irish tourism, a different countdown was nigh. The Gathering 2013, Ireland’s greatest ever tourism initiative was about to take flight.
“We’ve been counting down to January 1st for over a year now,” said Áine Kavanagh, press officer for the event. “We wanted to create something inspiring — like Homecoming Scotland,” she added, referring to the 2009 festival that encouraged people of Scottish ancestry to return to the Highlands.