On the previous episode of 'Homeward Bound: The Gathering', things were a little different. Rather than watch an Irish émigré return home, we saw American-born dancer Jean Butler return to her mother’s birthplace in Co Mayo.
Jean’s mother Josephine immigrated to the US at age 17 and ironically, at the same age, Jean made the reverse journey, moving to Ireland to pursue her dance career. Though she now lives in Brooklyn, Jean says she and her husband Cuan Hanley “still have one foot in Ireland”.
One of the most touching moments of Jean’s visit to Mayo was with Michael Foy, who immigrated to Leeds at age 17. Now 80 years old, Michael returns to Foxford and has an emotional visit to the small house on Main Street where he grew up.
Next up in the final episode of 'The Gathering: Homeward Bound', renowned actress Fionnula Flanagan makes the journey from Los Angeles back to Ireland. Flanagan is originally from Dublin, yet her visit takes place in Connemara, which over the years has been like a second home in Ireland for her. There, she meets with Ireland Reaching Out, a group that uses reverse genealogy to make connections with the diaspora, and also attends a discussion at NUI Galway about Irish identity.
Don’t miss Fionnula Flanagan’s homecoming, which can be viewed on The Gathering Ireland’s YouTube page, along with all past episodes of the series.