Ireland’s Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht named stars of Ireland’ arts and culture community to promote the country as part of Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative.

Ireland’s Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan has today announced the appointment of five Cultural Ambassadors, including Martin Hayes, Shelly McNamara, and Yvonne Farrell, Ruth Negga and Paul Muldoon.

The new positions will see high-profile figures from Ireland’s arts and culture community promote Ireland globally as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative. This new initiative aims to double Ireland’s footprint globally by 2025 through a mix of actions in the cultural, diplomatic, business, education, and tourism areas.

Ireland’s strong reputation for culture and creativity is central to the initiative, which proposes a number of actions to enhance the promotion of Ireland’s culture globally, including the appointment of Cultural Ambassadors.

Master musician and founding member of The Gloaming, Martin Hayes, leading architects, Shelly McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects, awarding-winning actress Ruth Negga and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon have all accepted the role of Cultural Ambassador for a period of three years. The Cultural Ambassadors will endeavor 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.

In announcing the appointment of the Cultural Ambassadors, 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. The current generation of musicians, actors, architects, poets, and other artists are continuing this invaluable work.

They are the people that set our small island nation apart, the storytellers who convey Ireland’s story in a unique and memorable way, be it through word, music or design. 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.”

“This 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. The announcement of €1.2bn in capital funding for these areas last year and the significant increase for current funding for the arts in Budget 2019 is proof of this.”

The first event, which will be attended by a number of the Cultural Ambassadors, is a conference of cultural stakeholders being held 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. The emblem is based on the treasured boat of the Broighter hoard held in the National Museum, on which the Culture Ireland logo is modeled. Paul Muldoon, who could not be present owing to the commitments in the US, will be presented with his award at the end of the week in the Irish Arts Centre in New York when the Minister visits the city.

Here are short bios of the five new Cultural Ambassadors for Ireland:

Martin Hayes

Steeped in fiddle playing from an early age, Martin Hayes’ soulful interpretations of traditional Irish music are recognized the world over for their exquisite musicality and irresistible rhythm. He has toured and recorded with guitarist Dennis Cahill for over 20 years and has collaborated with extraordinary musicians in the classical, folk and contemporary music worlds including performing with Brooklyn Rider and the Martin Hayes Quartet. Martin has contributed music, both original and traditional arrangements to modern dance, theatre, film and television and has performed on stage with Sting and Paul Simon and recently recorded with Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project.

Martin Hayes on stage with Declan O'Rourke.

Martin Hayes on stage with Declan O'Rourke.

Martin has been recognized as Musician of the Year (Gradam Ceol) from TG4, Person of the Year by the American Irish Historical Society in New York City and was the recipient of the annual Spirit of Ireland award from the Irish Arts Center NY. He founded the seminal Irish American band, The Gloaming, with whom he tours internationally and with whom he shared the prestigious Meteor Prize in 2014 for their debut album.

Ruth Negga

Ruth Negga is an exceptionally talented and versatile actress with a body of work that spans award-winning theatre productions, big screen historical dramas, independent films, and innovative television series. Ruth will next be seen in James Gray's sci-fi epic Ad Astra opposite Brad Pitt which Twentieth Century Fox is slated to release on January 11, 2019.

Ruth will soon begin production for her reoccurring role starring as ‘Tulip O’Hare’ in season four of the AMC series Preacher opposite Dominic Cooper. Produced by Seth Rogen, the series is based on the hit graphic novel of the same name. Ruth was most recently seen starring in the Shakespeare tragedy Hamlet at the Gate Theatre as part of the 2018 Dublin Theatre Festival.

In 2016, Ruth was seen starring as ‘Mildred Loving’ opposite Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols’ Loving, inspired by the documentary The Loving Story.

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in "Loving."

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in "Loving."

The film follows Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple behind the pivotal 1967 civil rights case, Loving vs. Virginia. For her performance, Ruth’s accolades include Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations. She also won an IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Film. Prior to that, Ruth was also seen in Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, an epic fantasy adventure based on the popular video game series.

On television, Ruth holds a variety of US and UK credits including Justin Chadwick’s HBO television movie The Money, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for ABC for which she was nominated for a 2016 Irish Film & Television Award in the category of “Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama”, the hit UK series Misfits for Logo as ‘Nikki’, as ‘Rosie’ on Love/Hate for RTE and as ‘Rochelle” on BBC’s mini-series Five Daughters. Ruth won the Irish Film and Television Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of 'Shirley Bassey' in the TV movie Shirley.

Her extensive and award-winning theatre production credits include Lolita as her stage debut for Corn Exchange Theatre Company at the Abbey Theatre, Duck for Out of Joint and The Royal Court Theatre, for which she was nominated for an Olivier best newcomer, Playboy of the Western World at The OldVic, Hamlet at the National Theatre, Phaedre at the National Theatre, for which she won the Ian Charleson Award, Oedipus Loves You at Peter Pan Theatre, Lay Me Down Softly, The Crucible, The Bacchae, Burial At Thebes all at the Abbey Theatre, and Titus Andronicus at The Project Theatre, for which she received the Irish Times Award for Best Actress.

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He now lives in New York. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for thirty years.

Poet Paul Muldoon.

Poet Paul Muldoon.

He is the author of twelve collections of poetry including Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, as well as Selected Poems 1968-2014 (2016). Roger Rosenblatt, writing recently in The New York Times Book Review, described Paul Muldoon as “one of the great poets of the past hundred years, who can be everything in his poems - word-playful, lyrical, hilarious, melancholy. And angry. Only Yeats before him could write with such measured fury.”

Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell

Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara, graduates of UCD, established Grafton Architects in 1978. They are Fellows of the RIAI, and International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and elected members of Aosdána, the eminent Irish Art organization. Teachers at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin from 1976 to 2002 and appointed adjunct Professors in 2015, they have held the Kenzo Tange chair at GSD Harvard and the Louis Kahn chair at Yale University and have been visiting professors at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland; Accademia d’Archittettura, Mendrisio, Switzerland, where they were appointed as full professors in 2013. They have been external examiners at numerous universities including Cambridge University and The London Metropolitan School of Architecture. As well as public lectures in Dublin and abroad, including the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the Royal Academy in London, they have lectured widely in European and American Schools of Architecture.

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, which is widely acclaimed and recognized as a seminal contemporary work. They are currently working on the commission to design the new Marshall Building for the London School of Economics, United Kingdom; the new School of Economics for University Toulouse 1 Capitole; the new Town House Building at Kingston University London; and the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter Project – The New City Library in Dublin.

Farrell and McNamara were the curators for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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