Do not be surprised if someone unexpectedly sends you an e-mail, or a postcard asking for your help in Ireland. “come home to visit.”

It is part of the year-long, unique outreach called “The Gathering: Ireland 2013,”It couldn’t have come at a better time. Americans are so keen to discover their roots that they have recently crashed the National Archives website after it received 37 million hits on its 1940 census.

“What we’re all looking for is the story of the family — what made my grandparents the way they were, which made my parents the way they were, which made me what I am,”A genealogy expert spoke of the crash.

The Gathering taps in to that longing in ways that generations of the vast Irish Diaspora living in America should find irresistible. There are many big, boisterous events such as the All-Ireland Hurling Championships and the Great Limerick Run. You’ll probably find something of interest everywhere you go if you place an emphasis on grassroots participation. This is why you get e-mails back from long-lost relatives or even clubs.

The highlights include:

* National Heritage Week. Medieval fairs. Historical reenactments. Maritime fun. Yes, maritime fun. “night-time bat walks.”It’s hard to find something not to love, especially when many of the more than 1,000 events are free.

* The Dublin Theatre Festival. Actors from Vanessa Redgrave, Neve Campbell, and others have regularly appeared in cutting-edge productions. This is fitting for a country which gave birth to George Bernard Shaw.

* The Galway Oyster Festival. For those who want to know if their ancestors are Irish gentry or not, coastal Galway (a.k.a. “the City of the Tribes”In honor of the 14 merchant family sway — this is a good starting point. You can also watch a celebrity chef compete while enjoying the famous Galway Bay oysters.

* St. Patrick’s Parades and Festivals. You can forget everything you have ever seen in New York. These show all that is good about Ireland, including pageantry, music and comedy. The Limerick one (Dublin City’s) also features horseracing.

If You Go: CIE Tours International, a well-respected company that has escorted millions to Ireland over the past eight decades, offers many full-inclusive vacation options. It’s “$550+ Advantage”Protection guarantees that no charges will be made to travelers for extra features. For more information, call 1-800-243-8687