The Emerald Isle Classic was about a lot more than football. For one thing it was a curtain raiser to the Gathering, the Irish government's ambitious effort to lure the Irish diaspora to Ireland's shores next year in record numbers.
The Notre Dame versus Navy game was also an opportunity to enhance transatlantic business ties and this was precisely the play as the Tánaiste and minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, hosted an "Investment Roundtable" at Government Buildings two days ahead of the big game.
Though Gilmore played host, the meeting was actually convened by The Coca-Cola Company.
The roundtable, according to an Irish government release, was moderated by Irishman, Irial Finan, a member of the Irish government's Global Irish Network Advisory Group and Executive Vice President of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
The joint Government/ Coca-Cola meeting was attended by over 20 leaders of U.S. companies who were visiting Ireland to attend the game at the Aviva Stadium.
Stated the release in part: "The Investment Roundtable is one of a series of events taking place on the margins of the Emerald Isle Classic. Included among the many thousands of fans of the two premier college teams are a number of high-level American business people who have accepted an invitation from leaders of The Coca-Cola Company to attend a roundtable hosted by the Tánaiste to learn what Ireland has to offer as an investment location."
Stated Mr. Gilmore: "On behalf of the government I am delighted to have this opportunity to personally brief a key new audience on the tremendous progress Ireland is making in its economic recovery and to highlight the many advantages Ireland offers as an investment location. "Foreign Direct Investment has been a vital component of the successful development of our economy in the past, and the high level of U.S. investment has been critical to this. My message today is that there has never been a better time to invest here."
Added Mr. Finan: "The Coca-Cola Company has been investing in Ireland for over a half a century and has built a significant presence across the island of Ireland. We wish to play our part in helping to support the Irish government's job creation and economic growth strategy."
The roundtable was also addressed by Coca-Cola Company director, and chairman emeritus of Notre Dame Foundation, Don Keough, whose commitment to Ireland over the past 50 years is widely recognized as having led to both economic and social investments by Coca-Cola, and personal investment in educational and cultural links.
Among other representatives of the Irish government at the meeting were Barry O'Leary, Chief Executive of IDA Ireland, who addressed the American visitors and participated in a question and answer session intended to explain assistance and support the IDA can provide to potential investors in Ireland.
"The IDA welcomes the convening of this important event which once again highlights the vital importance of Ireland's strategic relationships with so many U.S. companies," said O'Leary.
"Ireland is staging a strong economic recovery and pivotal to these efforts are long term relationships with key U.S. corporates. The IDA is determined to develop and enhance these relationships even further in future."