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    Gabriel Byrne to be Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador to the US

    By Noreen Bowden | March 16, 2010

    News reports are saying that Hollywood actor Gabriel Byrne is being appointed as Ireland’s “Cultural Ambassador” to the US.

    Byrne has taken a leadership role in Irish-American cultural circles in recent years; he emerged in recent years, for example, as the strongest spokesperson for the idea of an Irish cultural centre in New York. Funding of €2.3 million from the Irish government was announced for the centre in December.

    Byrne spoke of his vision in 2008:

    “We started to talk about building a new center that would encourage not just the importation of current Irish culture, and diverse current Irish culture, but would encourage the development of a unique Irish American cultural voice, this while we would have the place to do it which is also a business center, where people from Ireland could come in and do business, where Irish people could get together socially.”

    Byrne’s idea of merging culture and business was prescient: the idea that economic success could flow from an increased concentration on Ireland’s cultural activities was one of the strongest that emerged from the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh in September. And the visit by Taoiseach Brian Cowen to the White House will also heavily stress Ireland’s cultural aspects.

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