A new website aimed at gathering the global Irish tribe was unveiled at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin today, where Irish business leaders, ex-pats and global executives of Irish heritage have gathered.
The brainchild of Riverdance co-founder John McColgan, WorldIrish.com is an online community for the Irish, or anyone who has an affinity with Ireland, harnessing the power of existing social networks while deepening the relationship of users to the Irish experience, across culture, arts, sports, media, business and science.
McColgan said that through the WorldIrish initiative, Ireland will be the first country to embrace social media to co-invent a platform between a country and its diaspora.
“Today, around the world, it is evident that the power and potential of the internet and social networking to communicate on an unprecedented scale is influencing change in ways which would have, until recently, been unimaginable,” McColgan explained.
“The timing of a project like this is opportune as Dublin is now the leading capital for social media with the presence of giants such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and most recently, Twitter. You don’t have to be Irish to be WorldIrish – anyone with an affinity with Ireland and Irishness from anywhere in the world can join,” he added.
A key action identified at the Gateway Ireland conference last year, backers of the project include Denis O’Brien, Terry Clune and Dermot Desmond.
To date, €3m has been raised, out of which almost €1m has been spent getting the project to where it is today. Additional investment is now being sought.
The website’s construction began in earnest earlier this year and it will be bolstered by an offline and online marketing campaign that will also harness social media.
“WorldIrish.com is creating an API that is an open platform on which it will develop its various online applications,” said Michael Branagan, newly appointed CEO of WorldIrish.
“The site is currently in beta and a range of applications and features will be rolled out over the coming months, working hand in hand with the community as part of a co-invention process”
Research shows that of the 70m Irish diaspora, 49m are online today.
Based in the centre of Dublin in Capel Street in the old Tram Terminus, the project envisages operating as a thriving technology and media hub.