Ireland should exploit its world-renowned cultural legacy, says Desmond

An Irish billionaire has begun plans to create an Irish 'global university' dedicated to culture and arts.

Dermot Desmond, one of Ireland's leading business figures, has written to major Irish names in the arts and culture asking for their help. Included are musicians Bono and U2, Enya, The Corrs and Van Morrison; actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson; directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan; and writers Brian Friel, Roddy Doyle and Sebastian Barry.

Desmond first floated the idea at the Farmleigh Global Irish conference held last September. He wrote this week to 163 individuals in all inviting them “to be a founder, a designer and an architect of this initiative.” He is calling the initiative “Cultural Odyssey”.

Desmond stated in the letter that Ireland should “exploit its deep and world-renowned cultural legacy and talent to establish a global university focusing on culture and the performing arts.”

“As the world economy continues its inexorable shift to becoming knowledge-based, we have many competitive advantages,” Mr Desmond wrote. “The combination of our cultural pedigree and our technological leadership suggests to me that we can create a lasting opportunity for Ireland’s future generations.”

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has also been asked to participate in the project as well as businessman Denis O’Brien, former Intel chief executive Craig Barrett, and Gary McGann, chief executive of packaging group Smurfit Kappa.

He says the discussions will range from “syllabus development to architectural concept, from education futures to entertainment futures, from physical location to models of excellence for university design”.

The businessman says the process will be “a fluid, dynamic, responsive approach to collaboration, and your input will change the shape of the conversation.”

He stated, “It is my belief and conviction that the unique Irish spirit is undefeatable. It is this uniqueness that makes you the outstanding world talent that you have become.

Through the combination of these elements, we can all be part of creating a new chapter in Ireland’s history for future generations.”