While economic storm clouds were joining all the other clouds that typically gather over Ireland, the government decided to increase the flow of its greatest export to its most significant market. Lacking much in the way of currently accessible oil reserves, rare earths, precious metals, athletic shoe factories or excessive amber waves of grain, the government placed a $5.2 million bet on something hard to quantify — culture — in an initiative called "Imagine Ireland, A Year of Irish Arts in America 2011," which is now drawing to a close with a flourish. (full story at Huffington Post — LINK)