Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny has revealed he cries every time he sees the power of Riverdance.
Several people have spoken of the hair standing on their necks when they first viewed it as aEurovision song contest interval number, but Kenny is the first to have admitted shedding tears.
In a pep talk to Irish ambassadors in Dublin, Kenny urged the 76-strong diplomatic corps spread throughout the world not to lose sight of the disproportionate impact the arts, music and literature have for Ireland.
Kenny was addressing ambassadors and heads of mission from around the world at the
Department of Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House in Dublin at a conference on how to restore Ireland’s image abroad.
He told them he wanted to get the message out that there has never been a better time to visit and that it’s time to wave goodbye to Ajai Chopra, the International Monetary Fund mission chief in Ireland.
His rally-the-troops speech compared Ireland to the Roman army, and he called on his foreign service to make the world understand that the country is on the way back and wide open for business.
“I actually cry every time I see the power of the phenomenon of Riverdance -- ancient dance translated into a phenomenal and powerful message. It’s like the young fella who climbed out of the military tank in Taiwan many years ago had no English. He had one word, U2. He knew the music.
“As I said to Her Majesty down in Dublin Castle, one of the things that England gave Ireland was the language, the English language, and I said, ‘Your Majesty, look what we did with it -- Beckett, Synge, Yeats, Heaney, Joyce and all the others and all in a space of a couple of hundred years.’”
Meanwhile, Kenny is expected to be tops himself in English when defending expected attacks in the Dail (Parliament) over this week’s revelation in the Irish Independent that a swathe of government ministers and TDs (members of Parliament) are employing family members as staff despite pre-election promises to end cronyism so closely linked to Fianna Fail.
Among the ministers under fire are Training and Skills Minister Ciaran Cannon who hired his wife as his secretary with a salary between €23,000 and €47,000, and his brother-in-law as one of his drivers with a salary of €35,000 a year.