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Houston May Be Getting Its Irish Up

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Authentic Irish weather greeted this weekend's St. Patrick's Day Parade, but the chilly rain didn't deter over 150 entrants from promenading down Caroline and San Jacinto streets in honor of Ireland's patron. According to information we received, it may be that some of them had partaken of what the Irish call "the creature," which appeared to be a restoring beverage of some sort.

At any rate, it turns out Houston's Irish might have more to celebrate this year than usual. Take it away, Irish Independent:

The Government is opening two new 'cost-effective' consulates in the US while cutting back on refurbishment projects at home.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night revealed details of an ambitious plan to forge closer links between Ireland and America, which includes the opening of two new consulates in Atlanta, Georgia, and in Houston, Texas.

The plans are not without an element of controversy. Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy was defanged by the global meltdown, and the Irish diplomatic corps is facing cutbacks like everything else.

In fact, KPFT's Irish Aires co-host Jay Dooling tells Hair Balls he spoke last week to the area's (currently Chicago-based) Irish vice-consul Tim Reilly, who told Dooling that the plan for a Houston consulate was about five years down the road.

Tom Horan, knower of all things Irish here, says he spoke to a different vice-consul over the weekend and that person, too, was under the impression the idea "was in the hopper, but nothing concrete had been decided."

However, if today's Irish Independent is to be believed, it seems that the plan accelerated somewhat over the weekend:

"Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin, who is part of the State delegation to the US for St Patrick's Day, said the first of the new consulates will be open within 12 to 15 months.

He said the Government was looking for 'the most cost-effective model of consulate' to expand Irish business in the US. "

'It will be subject to resources, given the current economic situation, but even within existing resources we are organising our strengths on the ground. It's important that we're strong where we need to be and we're under strength in those two areas,' he said."

"Most cost-effective model? Subject to resources? Are they talking a trailer in Pasadena?

No matter. Dooling remains enthused by the prospect, no matter how far down the road it is and what diminished form it takes.

"It would be great for Houston, " he tells Hair Balls. "We would get lots more attention from the Irish government here."

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