This festival will attract Kenmare's Diaspora to a 3 to 4 day event in Kenmare Co Kerry from 30th of August to 1st September 2013. The festival is called The Kenmare Gangs of New York Gathering festival.
It centres on the Lansdowne estate and the assisted/forced emigration of between four and five thousand people shortly after the famine of the mid to late 1840's.
WS Trench was the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne's agent in Kenmare and he devised the programme to offer to forgive rent arrears and give £4 to every tenant who wanted to leave for New York and Quebec Canada.
Many of the Kenmare emigrants starving and destitute (drawn from the estate areas of Bonane Kenmare Tuosist Lauragh Kilgarvan and Templenoe) ended up living in the Five Points area of New York on Manhattan’s lower east side.
The Five Points area itself was depicted in the 2002 Martin Scorcese movie Gangs of New York staring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio.
One of the most famous people of this lineage was Congressman Big Tim Sullivan whose parents were Lansdowne tenants - he succeeded in naming a street in Manhattan, Kenmare Street in honour of his Mother.
We hope to identify the living relatives of these Lansdowne Estate tenants who left and settled in New York (may also incorporate Quebec) and invite them home to find out about their heritage and tell the story of the time when their families left Kenmare. The festival will involve a number of events including:
Guided historical walks around the main points of interest on the estate.
A play in the Carnegie Arts Centre depicting life in the 1850's and the story of the emigration programme instituted by WS Trench.
The showing in the Carnegie Arts Centre of Sean De Morda's 'The Land is Gold' documentary about Kenmare and the Lansdowne estate.
A specifically designed heritage centre display telling the story of Kenmare and the Lansdowne Estate.
A genealogy road show bus will be in the town for at least part of the festival providing resources for the visitors to further trace their family history.
The possible renaming of a street in Kenmare to reflect the shared heritage between the area and New York. The unveiling of a plaque in the square telling the story of the Lansdowne estate and the five points.
A similar plaque is being unveiled in Kenmare St New York next year.
This is an opportunity for the Descendants of those who left to find out their family's story of triumph over adversity, surviving the Irish Famine as well as life in the turbulent Five Points to progress in American life.