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Ruth Negga and Martin Hayes named among five new Cultural Ambassadors for Ireland

They are joined by poet Paul Muldoon and Shelly McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects.

Ruth Negga
Ruth Negga
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IRELAND HAS FIVE new Cultural Ambassadors – including a Hollywood star, a traditional musician, two internationally famous architects, and a renowned poet.

The five Cultural Ambassadors were appointed today by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD. The role of Cultural Ambassador will, said Madigan’s office, “see high-profile figures from Ireland’s arts and culture community promote Ireland globally as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative”.

Actress Ruth Negga, musician Martin Hayes, poet Paul Muldoon and architects Shelly McNamara and Yvonne Farrell are the first ambassadors under the scheme. 

Global Ireland 2025 aims to “double Ireland’s footprint globally by 2025 through a mix of actions in the cultural, diplomatic, business, education and tourism areas”. According to the Department, Ireland’s reputation for culture and creativity is central to the initiative.

PastedImage-15139 Source: Merrion Street/Twitter

The five new Cultural Ambassadors will all hold the role for a period of three years:

The Cultural Ambassadors will endeavour to raise the public focus on arts and culture as a means of promoting Ireland globally, provide advice and input on strategic cultural initiatives and participate in key events and projects.

Martin Hayes has played the fiddle from an early age, going on to tour and record with guitarist Dennis Cahill for over two decades. He’s also a member of the hugely popular band The Gloaming, and is internationally feted for his talent.

Actress Ruth Negga is known for her roles in films like Loving and TV shows Love/Hate and Preachers, as well as her recent turn as Hamlet at the Gate Theatre. We’ll see her next in the sci-fi epic Ad Astra opposite Brad Pitt. 

Poet Paul Muldoon is Armagh-born, but lives in New York, where he has taught at Princeton University for thirty years. He is the author of 12 collections of poetry including Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize.

Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell are UCD graduates who established Grafton Architects in 1978. They are Fellows of the RIAI, and International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and elected members of Aosdána, as well as being adjunct professors at UCD.

Grafton Architects are winners of numerous international awards including the World Building of the Year Award 2008 for their building for the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan. Farrell and McNamara were the curators for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Making the announcement today, Minister Madigan said: “Ireland’s artists have been outstanding ambassadors for the country, since the era of the creative genius of Shaw, O’Casey, Synge, Yeats and Beckett.

“We greatly appreciate each Cultural Ambassador’s acceptance of the role. In continuing to do what they do best, they will be among Ireland’s greatest representatives globally.”

She said that the current Government “understands the importance of culture and is committed to supporting it”.

“This is why the Taoiseach has committed to doubling funding levels for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht by 2025,” said Madigan, in a nod to the funding cutbacks that occurred during the recession and austerity years.

Last year, €1.2bn in capital funding was announced for these areas, along with an increase in current funding for the arts in Budget 2019.

The ambassadors’ first event is a conference of cultural stakeholders in Dublin on 24 January which will discuss and debate how best to advance Ireland’s global visibility and strengthen global relationships.

Further appointments of Cultural Ambassadors may be made over time “in line with the Government’s geographic and other priorities”.

The Minister presented the four attending Cultural Ambassadors with a silver emblem by silversmith Seamus Gill to mark their appointment today. Paul Muldoon was not able to attend, so will be presented with his award in New York.

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