On Monday 7 January, 2019 I announced the appointment of five Cultural Ambassadors to assist in and enhance the promotion of Ireland in the global arena under the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 initiative.
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 serve for a period of three years. In their role they will endeavour 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.
The first such event is a conference of cultural stakeholders being held 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.
Of the five newly appointed Cultural Ambassadors two are originally from county Clare, i.e. musician Martin Hayes and architect Shelley McNamara.
Steeped in fiddle playing from an early age, Martin Hayes’ soulful interpretations of traditional Irish music are recognised the world over for their exquisite musicality and irresistible rhythm. He has toured and recorded with guitarist Dennis Cahill for over twenty 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 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 is recipient of the annual Spirit of Ireland award from the Irish Arts Center in New York. He founded The Gloaming with whom he tours internationally and with whom he shared the prestigious Meteor Prize in 2014 for their debut album.
Shelley McNamara, graduate of UCD, is a co-founder with Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects established in 1978. Both, McNamara and Farrell, are Fellows of the RIAI (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland), and International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and elected members of Aosdána, the eminent Irish Art organisation. 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 recognised 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, Ireland.
Farrell and McNamara were the curators for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.