Gabriel Byrne celebrates Irish arts
Gabriel Byrne has launched the largest ever programme of Irish arts in the United States.
The In Treatment actor, who is Ireland's Cultural Ambassador, unveiled a programme of more than 400 Irish film, theatre, music, dance and literature events to entertain American audiences this year.
Imagine Ireland is an unprecedented celebration of Irish arts that will see more than 1,000 artists and producers stage works in 200 cities including New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Speaking at the launch in New York, Gabriel praised the Irish imagination and encouraged Americans of all generations to imagine Ireland for themselves.
"Ireland's culture has been consistently evolving: only a culture which changes remains alive; its breath and influence is universal," he said.
He went on: "Consider the stark beauty of early monastic poetry, the subversive ballads and love songs of a repressed Gaelic culture, or the monumental reimagining of an enforced language.
"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, yet speak with a new voice that is of today, yesterday and tomorrow. Theirs is an inevitable, ever changing voice that recognises kinship of reality and imagination."
Highlights of the spring and summer Imagine Ireland programme include Irish Film Festivals in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Seattle; and the world premiere of Gerald Barry's opera The Importance Of Being Of Earnest with the LA Philharmonic.
Elsewhere Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains will hold a month-long, 19-venue tour.