Galway has been named European Capital of Culture 2020.
The city beat off competition from Limerick and the Three Sisters of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford to share the accolade with Rijeka in Croatia.
The theme of the bid was Making Waves – Landscape, Language and Migration, which swayed the judges who visited the sites over the last week.
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, praised the Irish bids.
In the wake of the Nice terror attacks, the minister said one of the aims of the award was to bring Europeans closer together and improve mutual understanding.
“We can only respond to such attacks by strengthening our resolve and commitment to our culture and our way of life in Europe.
“It is at moments such as this that we say aloud that we will not stop celebrating what is great about living in Ireland, in France or in Europe,” she said.
Ms Humphreys said the respectful 1916 centenary commemorations and the French values of “liberty, equality and fraternity” will prevail in Europe no matter the provocation
Ireland has previously hosted the European Capital of Culture in Dublin in 1991 and Cork in 2005.
“In 2020, we will celebrate our unique Irish cultural heritage, while also celebrating our European influences,” she said.
The European Commission said the original mo tivation of the award is more relevant than ever – learning about cultures and sharing history and values.
Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “The competition in Ireland illustrates that this EU initiative remains fresh and vigorous, highly popular with cities and citizens.”
The successful bid had to show its programme would have a lasting impact and that it could be paid for.
Current capitals of culture are Wrocław in Poland and Donostia/San Sebastian in the Basque country in Spain.
Next year it will be Aar hus in Denmark and Paphos in Cyprus, followed by Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and Valletta in Malta in 2018 and Matera in Italy and Plovdiv in Bulgaria in 2019.