The New York City Launch, January 7

The launch of Imagine Ireland at Lincoln Center in New York City on January 7 continues to gather enthusiastic responses from press in the US and Ireland.

CBS Chicago: $5M Grant Brings Ireland To Chicago

Irish Fireside: A Year of Irish Arts in America [This article is no longer available on the Internet] Imagine Ireland Brings Irish Theatre (and More) to the U.S. in 2011 [this article is no longer available]

The Smiling Ambassador, courtesy of the Patrick McMullan Agency

Irish Film and Television Network (IFTN): Gabriel Byrne Launches ‘Imagine Ireland’

At the launch Gabriel Byrne commented on the evolving Irish arts, saying: “The creative Irish mind has always found some of its richest inspiration in America – think today of the music of U2 or the writing of Colum McCann. Think too of the plays of Eugene O’Neill and the films of John Ford, whose film “The Quiet Man” is one of the most memorable and influential responses by an Irish American to the challenge to “imagine Ireland”.

Minister Mary Hanafin, who was also present at the launch in New York spoke of the Government’s support of the new body, saying:“Culture is the means by which most Americans now encounter Ireland. It connects with the deep sense of pride and belonging of more than 40 million Irish-Americans, and also with the many millions of Americans with no Irish ancestry who love great art. The Government has invested in this initiative because arts and culture are vital to Ireland’s recovery, and to the relationship between our two countries. Imagine Ireland celebrates and renews that unique relationship, bringing Irish culture to new audiences across America and connecting with new generations.”

Two Gentlemen from Ireland

Wall Street Journal Speakeasy Blog: Gabriel Byrne, Colum McCann Want You to ‘Imagine Ireland’ (interview with both gentlemen) [This article is behind a paywall].

Speakeasy: Mr. Bryne, how did you get to be a Cultural Ambassador?

Gabriel Bryne: To appoint somebody who works with the world of cinema, theatre, was tremendously innovative of the Irish government. There was a time when the American government placed culture at the center of their economic renovation, during the 30s…

Speakeasy: I bet you’ve heard of Hallie Flanagan.

Gabriel Byrne: Absolutely! That’s when art actually worked. When the government decided that artists could actually lead the way. What art does is ask people to re-imagine reality. That’s a deeply subversive thing to do. I can understand that somebody with great foresight would not be heavily into subsidizing the arts, because when you cut off the arts you cut off a major voice—but you cannot ever quell it. You can take Solzhenitsyn and put him in a Siberian labor camp, but some version of him always will out.

Vinny Murphy’s Blog: Imagine Ireland launches in the US (he was there at the New York launch!)

CEO Culture Ireland Eugene Downes, actor (and Cultural Ambassador!)
Gabriel Byrne, Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin, writer Colum McCann
and NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
at launch of Imagine Ireland in New York City, January 7, 2011

Virginia Festival of the Book: Imagine Ireland [this website no longer exists]

March 19, 2011: Imagine Ireland with Anne Enright, Kathleen Hill, and Colm Tóibín

Celebrate Irish and Irish-American culture and literature with three bestselling authors in both the U.S. and Ireland. Colm Tóibín (Brooklyn and The Empty Family: Stories); Kathleen Hill (Still Waters in Niger and Who Occupies This House); and Anne Enright (The Gathering and Yesterday’s Weather: Stories). Made possible by Culture Ireland and its initiative “Imagine Ireland,” a year-long season of Irish arts in America in 2011. This major initiative showcases outstanding creative talent from Ireland in partnership with leading festivals, venues and institutions across the United States, including the VFH’s Virginia Festival of the Book.

The Irish Emigrant: Year-long U.S. showcase of Irish arts launched in NY–Imagine Ireland will span 40 states [This article is no longer available on the Internet]

Speaking at the launch, Gabriel Byrne praised the Irish imagination and encouraged Americans of all generations to imagine Ireland for themselves. “Ireland’s culture has been consistently evolving,” he said, before remarking on Ireland’s rich cultural past and what it means to the present generation: “Only a culture which changes remains alive; its breath and influence is universal. Irish artists such as Joyce, Beckett and Yeats spoke from a native imagination to a universal audience. Today’s artists draw upon that massive inheritance…Theirs is an inevitable, ever changing voice that recognizes kinship of reality and imagination.”


  1. Cythandra

    This is going to be such a great program. Not sure how much of it I will get to see, but I’m going to try to see as much as I can. And he’s easilty the sexiest man alive.

  2. The NBC Washingotn link is impossible to see for me. I get the message that it is currently not working. Can you see it?
    I wish Imagine Ireland would come to Norway too, and bring artists and performances. Maybe that could be an idea for Gabriel to let some of the artists tour in Europe after being in USA..?
    Maybe they could perform Ibsen in Ibsens own country? Just a thought…

    • Sorry, Nora. It might only be available in the USA from the NBC Washington site. I’ll see about downloading it. Thanks for the heads up. It works fine for me, of course. Sigh…


      And I think your idea about an Imagine Ireland campaign in Europe and beyond is brilliant! Why don’t you write up a paragraph or two and I’ll post it on the main site? We can get this idea moving, I think…

      Just a thought. Yes!

  3. Sexy

  4. If you think my idea is OK you should use it Stella.
    My English is not the best so you should write about it, not me,

    I am so happy now because of all the good work Gabriel is doing for the Irish people. Ireland is really a country that the world should discover because of its beautiful nature and all their talented writers and artists. In May The Dubliners will come to Norway and I am looking forward to hear their music. One year ago the Riverdance show was in Oslo. It was really great to experience!

    So Europe say: Yes to the Irish and the Irish art and culture!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.