Just at the point when those ambitions were reaching an apex, the economic slump in Ireland is injecting a dose of fiscal reality into the effort to expand both diplomatic and commercial ties.
As things currently stand, the Irish embassy in Washington, D.C. is backed up in its work by consulates in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Plans to open two new consulates in Atlanta and Houston were recently announced by Dublin with the word that Atlanta would open first. Most lately, however, with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs being for severe budget cuts, there has been word that the Atlanta opening might be delayed with the Houston one being well and truly long-fingered.
But if anything, there is a greater need in hard times for closer and more intimate contact with social and business leaders in U.S. cities, Irish American and otherwise.
In the case of Atlanta, one of the fastest growing American cities in recent decades, the need for an Irish outpost is a no-brainer. Right now, with property prices low, a move to open an Atlanta consulate makes sense, if for no other reason than it would save cents, and dollars, over the longer run.
Such a facility could incorporate Irish state agencies charged with trade, investment and tourism, and, with all duly involved, the process of personal contact with influential regional groups and individuals, the kind of work that has been a hallmark of the embassy and existing consulates, could begin in earnest.
Ireland needs its American and Irish American dimension, and the best way to foster this is by engaging first hand with those who believe that America needs an Irish equivalent.
Though times are indeed hard, retreating from an expanded engagement with America and Irish America would be, to say the least, a false saving.