Some 5,000 members have already signed up to join a social networking site called RendezVous 353 that aims to link the 80m people of Irish heritage across the world. It is poignant that such a site is being established by emigrants as the spectre of emigration returns.
RendezVous353 was created in response to modern-day emigration, providing a resource for Irish people all over the world to stay connected with each other and to provide a link between those in Ireland and the Irish-connected people outside of Ireland.
Since the test site was created in February, 5,000 members worldwide have already signed up. The newly launched version of the site aims to connect Irish business people around the world, encouraging social interaction and creating a platform for business networking amongst the diaspora.
The site ultimately hopes to boost the Irish economy by increasing the support system between the Irish living at home and abroad, said founder Terry McLaughlan, a Galway man who has worked overseas on projects in Qatar.
He said RendezVous353 encapsulates the very best of Irish videos, blogs, MiniSites and news from contemporary Ireland, all on one site. Similar to other social networking sites, members become friends and share news, tips on living abroad and business opportunities.
The concept was born out of the personal experience McLaughlan and his co-founder, Limerick man Richard O’Donnell, who has added 25 years of experience of international software and technology to the project. They have privately funded the website, together with a small number of other Limerick-based investors.
“A tool like RendezVous353 is more relevant now than ever, with increased emigration and the need to stay in touch with loved ones and as a driver to encourage business between Irish people to bolster the economy,” McLaughlan said.
The ‘Irish’ Facebook
“We are heartened by the incredible response we have had from our members and it is clear that this site will prove to be a valuable resource for people all around the world.”
He added, “We have been referred to as the ‘Irish Facebook’, but the site holds much more possibility than that. We will be driving our own agenda and spreading the Irish connections between friends and strangers from all walks of life. RendezVous353 is exactly what it means to be Irish.”
Already, word has spread and members on the site hail from a plethora of far-reaching countries, including Ireland, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Argentina, Sudan, Oman, China, Singapore, Qatar, Jakarta and all major European cities. Members have arranged meetings in Kampala, Uganda, South Africa, Chile, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
RendezVous353 is being supported by regional ‘champions’ in many countries and by well-know names in Ireland and abroad, including musicians Paul Brad, The Saw Doctors and Brendan Keeley, who have all joined and set up MiniSites, on RendezVous353.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Terry McLaughlan and Pat Carroll in New York