Minister Varadkar and Riverdance star Jean Butler at the launch of the Riverdance Gathering weekend.



Friday, July 19th 2013: Minister Leo Varadkar T.D today launched Riverdance –The Gathering weekend in the company of the stars that have made Riverdance a global phenomenon. Jean Butler joined Riverdance creators John McColgan and Moya Doherty on the stage of the Gaiety theatre to kick start a weekend of activities that include a free family day, an open air concert at Merrion Square Dublin and a World Record breaking attempt on Samuel Beckett Bridge at noon on Sunday 21st of July.

Speaking at the launch Minister Varadkar said: “Back in 1994, Riverdance played a hugely significant role in putting Irish culture on the world stage. This weekend we are celebrating the global impact of Irish dance and music as part of the Gathering Ireland 2013. People have travelled from 43 countries, from as far away as Israel and Chile, to be part of this weekend’s events. It’s a remarkable feat and a reminder of the far reaching appeal of Ireland and Irish culture.”

To date over 23 million people worldwide have seen Riverdance live in over 350 cities. This week as part of the Riverdance – The Gathering activities, Riverdance creators John McColgan, Moya Doherty along with Grammy award winning composer Bill Whelan hosted a series of Masterclass tutorials. The cast of the Riverdance troupe have provided intensive classes for dancers from across the world. Today members of that Masterclass series were on the stage of the Gaiety bringing their tutorials to life.

John McColgan said “Riverdance –The Gathering captures the essence of this Gathering year. This is not just the story of the Irish who went overseas for their descendants to come back generations later – this is the story of the influence they had, the people they inspired, and the lives they changed. For 19 years we have put so much energy into Riverdance so it is really important and very special to us that we can play our part in the Gathering”.

Jean Butler, who first took to the stage in 1994 at the original performance of Riverdance, returned today as an ambassador of Riverdance –The Gathering said “I am delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the Gathering through Irish dance with thousands of people over the course of this weekend. Riverdance has played a big role in my life but it has also played a big part in bringing the joy of Irish dance and music to many people throughout the world. It’s an honour to be among so many of those people here in Dublin to celebrate the Gathering this weekend”.

Events taking place over the course of the weekend include the Gathering in the Park from 2pm on Saturday at Merrion Square Park. Entry is free and people young and old will have an opportunity to learn the basic steps of Irish dance in workshops with Riverdancers, Irish themed make and do as well as bouncy castles and face painting. At 3pm in Merrion Square members of the Riverdance Flying Squad will host a giant Gathering Céili.

This Saturday night Merrion Square will be transformed for a unique open air concert for Riverdance: On Screen. The show will present Riverdance’s most iconic moments from its 19 years of global touring on a 50 square metre high-definition screen accompanied by the Riverdance band following a special hour-long performance by singer Brian Kennedy to get the evening underway. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy will also make a special guest appearance and the performance will be introduced by Riverdance’s Grammy award-winning composer Bill Whelan and Riverdance icon, Jean Butler under the Merrion Square night sky.

On Sunday at noon over 2,300 from 44 countries will come together to break the World Record for the Longest Line of Riverdance. The current record of 652, currently held by Nashville Tennessee will be broken to the iconic sounds of Bill Whelan’s Riverdance as Jean Butler leads the dancers in the world’s biggest performance of Riverdance. With plenty of festivities also taking place on the River Liffey from 11am, organisers are encouraging people to come down to the Samuel Beckett Bridge to witness history in the making.

Riverdance – The Gathering is a one-off, ‘signature’ Gathering event in a year that will see over 4000 events, big and small, take place throughout Ireland as part of the Gathering Ireland 2013.

Minister Varadkar said: “The Gathering is having a very real, positive impact on the tourism industry and communities throughout Ireland. Indications are that the Gathering is succeeding in delivering on its goal of attracting additional overseas visitors to Ireland with CSO figures indicating that total overseas trips to Ireland for the period Jan-May 2013 were up by 6.4% on the corresponding period last year.

“Tourism providers in Ireland are certainly feeling the impact with carriers, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, vintners, tour operators and tourism attractions all reporting increased bookings and sales. We are still only just half way through the year of the Gathering and with a number of unique, flagship Gathering events set to take place before the end of the year, I am optimistic that we can meet the ambitious targets set for the Gathering Ireland 2013.”

Date: 19. 7. 2013