Byrne is hands-on as cultural ambassador

"We found what we didn't expect and didn't find what we expected."

So said Gabriel Byrne recently of his experience working as a young archeologist in Dublin.

The film actor was hosting the Archeological Institute of America's Annual Gala, which focused April 26 on Ireland's music, poetry, dance and cuisine.

It was just one event in what has been a particularly busy period for Byrne in his role as his native country's official cultural ambassador.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

He has taken a hands-on approach, for instance, to several projects associated with Imagine Ireland, the showcase for Irish culture that will soon be officially launched at a ceremony in Dublin.

In association with the Irish Film Institute and MoMA, Byrne is curator of "Revisiting the Quiet Man: Ireland on Film," an 11-day season of films that begins on Friday. He has also assisted with "Ireland America: The Ties That Bind," which is continuing at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center through Aug. 13, in collaboration with Glucksman Ireland House and the Irish Film Institute.

At the AIA event on April 26 at the Capitale in Lower Manhattan, Byrne introduced guest speakers Dr. Pat Wallace of the National Museum in Dublin, Joe Byrne, executive vice-president Tourism Ireland, and Eugene Downes, executive officer of Culture Ireland.

Capitale Executive Chef Jason Munger prepared a Celtic feast with Irish-born, Washington D.C.-based chef Cathal Armstrong for the guests.

At the event, Google launched a new app highlighting the top 100 archaeological sites throughout Ireland, including Castle Ward in County Down, Navan Fort in County Armagh and Dunluce Castle in County Antrim.

Byrne will be interviewed on National Public Radio and WNYC's "Leonard Lopate Show" on Friday at 12 noon EST. He will be also be a guest on "The Late Late Show" on Friday, May 27, at 9:30 p.m. Irish time. That program can be viewed live on RTE's web site.