If your name is Claire (or Clare or Clair), then you aught to be in the West of Ireland from 21 to 23 June. Over the weekend, Co Clare is inviting all the world’s Claires to gather in and around Ennis for fun festivities and an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record.
Planning for Welcoming Claire to Clare got underway in 2012 after the local community came together to generate ideas for The Gathering Ireland. The project was then taken on by the Clare Volunteer Centre, who got many individuals and businesses involved.
Volunteer Centre Manager Sharon Meaney explains: “The Gathering has been a great project in getting people to think about how they can market the place that they live and how important it is to attract new people to where you live, but also to remind people who live there about what a fantastic place it is and everything that it has to offer.”
The record attempt will take place on Sunday 23 June at Ennis Cathedral, with the Ennis Gospel Choir providing entertainment. If you’d like to join in, you can register at www.welcomingclairetoclare.com.You can also show up on the day without registering in advance, but be sure to have a copy of your birth certificate so you can be included in the ‘Claire Count’.
Everyone who registers will, however, get an added bonus: the Clare Discount Card. Local businesses have gotten on board to provide special offers to all those coming for the World Record attempt. The deals include discounts on food and drink, tourist attractions, local boutiques, spas and shops.
If your name isn’t Claire, though, don’t worry; many of the offers are two-for-one, so all the Claires can share with their friends “I think Claire, whoever she is, is going to be very popular that weekend,” Meaney says with a laugh. “There will be a lot of people befriending people called Claire.”
Plus, beyond the record attempt, there’s plenty of fun for everyone on the weekend, and Meaney says many groups of girlfriends are using it as an excuse to get together. Some of the highlights include live music, the Clare 10K for charity, and talks by author Claire Kilroy and genealogist Clare Curtin.
As for the 'Claire Count', Meaney says about 300 people have already signed up, but they’ll need a whole lot more if they want to break the record. In 2005, a group of 1,096 Mohammeds in Dubai set the bar for the Largest Same Name Gathering – First Name, smashing the previous record of 375 Marias in Spain. But at the end of the day, the community effort and the craic are more important than the record.
“It’s going to be a great weekend,” Meaney says. “If we break the World Record that’s fantastic but if we don’t, I think we’ll be setting a record for the county. It’s a quirky event and it just shows what communities can do when coming up with great ideas. Really, it’s about community effort.”
Other upcoming gatherings with a Guinness World Record attempt:
The Town of 1,000 Beards – 28 to 30 June
Ballymoe in Co Galway is getting hairy this June as people come together to attempt to break the current World Record for the largest number of beards and moustaches in one place. For those without facial hair, there will also be music, storytelling, craft markets, talks and a children’s village.
Ennis Roots Weekend presents Clare Connections – 21 to 23 June
The same weekend as Welcoming Claire to Clare, this event will see people attempt to break the record for the largest tin whistle ensemble. Trad group Lúnasa will be on hand along with other special guests, but all are welcome to try their hand at the instrument. If you want to join in on the fun (1,020 people are needed), visit www.ennisrootsweekend.com where you’ll find a tutorial video.
Riverdance – The Gathering – 15 to 21 July
This special gathering concludes with a World Record attempt in Dublin on 21 July. More than 1,000 people are expected to put on their jig shoes, line up along the banks of the River Liffey and tap their feet. Anyone with basic Irish dance ability is invited to join Riverdance all-stars like Jean Butler in hopefully beating the record presently held by Nashville, Tennessee, USA, for the Longest Line of Riverdance.