One of the great collections of James Joyce manuscripts, the Fenian monument, a majestic view of Lake Erie and conversations about Irish investments in U.S. business were all part of the visit to Buffalo by Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall.
Mulhall is a longtime Irish diplomat, with high-profile posts in Malaysia and Britain before coming to Washington in March.
During a visit with Mayor Byron Brown at City Hall, Mulhall said the visit here is to meet the Irish diaspora across America, in all of the permutations, and to look after the increasing ranks of Irish companies pulling away from Britain and its internal convulsions around Brexit to invest in the States. American companies have long invested in Ireland and money is now moving both ways.
Mulhall said Britain's plan to pull out of the European Union is creating problems for Ireland, which is staying in the EU.
"We want to keep Britain as closely aligned as possible to the European Union so as to minimize the economic impact of their departure on our economy, which is still very strongly connected with Britain, although more heavily connected now with the United States, by the way, but still, Britain is still an important partner for us," he said. "The second point, the political point, is we need to keep that border and the underground open."
Mulhall said keeping that border open is key to maintaining the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
"Our absolute commitment, the Irish government's absolute priority, is to make sure that the Good Friday Agreement is not affected by Brexit and we will not accept anything which we believe would threaten to undermine the Good Friday Agreement," Mulhall said.
At the same time, there are potential problems because Ireland will use EU rules, while Northern Ireland will run on whatever rules Britain has after leaving the EU and both have to cross the border.
Mulhall said he will be back to check on current Irish investments here.
"We now have a two-way economic relationship, which I think is going to be the basis for the future development of Irish-U.S. relations and I fully expect to see more Irish companies coming here to this country and I hope some of them will be coming to Buffalo," he said. "I met an Irish businessman today at the University of Buffalo, wanting to come back and do an economic event, and I will definitely do that because he wants me to introduce him to the Irish companies who are here."
Mulhall said UB and its Joyce treasure is part of a worldwide cultural plan for the centenary in 2022 of Joyce's novel Ulysses, his re-working of Homer's masterpiece in a day-long tour of Dublin.