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20.12 7 Jan 2019


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'Love/Hate' actress Ruth Negga is one of several new Cultural Ambassadors for Ireland.

The new positions will see high-profile figures from the arts and culture community promote Ireland globally as part of the Government's Global Ireland 2025 initiative.

It is aiming to double Ireland's footprint globally by 2025 though a mix of actions in the cultural, diplomatic, business, education and tourism areas.

The Government says Ireland's strong reputation for culture and creativity is central to the initiative.

Master musician and founding member of 'The Gloaming', Martin Hayes, leading architects Shelly McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects, and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon have all accepted the roles - along with Negga - for a period of three years.

Their role will be 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.

Announcing the new ambassadorial roles on Monday, Culture Minister Josepha 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."

Further appointments of Cultural Ambassadors may be made over time.

The minister presented the four 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 modelled.

Mr Muldoon, who could not be present at the ceremony in Dublin, will be presented with his award at the end of the week in the Irish Arts Centre in New York.

Negga was most recently seen starring in the Shakespeare tragedy 'Hamlet' at the Gate Theatre as part of the 2018 Dublin Theatre Festival.

In 2016, she starred as Mildred Loving opposite Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols' 'Loving' - which followed Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple behind the pivotal 1967 civil rights case in the US, Loving vs Virginia.

For her performance, she garnered Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations.

She also won an IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Prior to that, Negga was also seen in Duncan Jones' 'Warcraft', based on the popular video game series, and a variety of US and UK credits.

These include Justin Chadwick's HBO television movie 'The Money', 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' for ABC and as Rochelle on BBC's mini-series 'Five Daughters'.

She won an IFTA Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of 'Shirley Bassey' in the TV movie 'Shirley'.

Martin Hayes' interpretations of traditional Irish music are recognised the world over for their musicality and rhythm.

He has toured and recorded with guitarist Dennis Cahill for over 20 years, and has collaborated with musicians in the classical, folk and contemporary music worlds including performing with Brooklyn Rider and the Martin Hayes Quartet.

A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, Paul Muldoon has taught at Princeton University for 30 years.

He is the author of 12 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)'.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are graduates of UCD and established Grafton Architects in 1978.

They are Fellows of the RIAI, and International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and elected members of Aosdána, the Irish art organisation.

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 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

They have also been external examiners at numerous universities including Cambridge University and The London Metropolitan School of Architecture.

The Government appointed Gabriel Byrne as the first 'Cultural Ambassador' to assist with the promotion of Imagine Ireland back in 2010.


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