TAXPAYERS have footed a €20,000 bill for a one-off performance of Riverdance.
The show was put on as part of the cultural programme provided for China's vice-president Xi Jinping, who visited Ireland for three days in February.
The show at the O'Reilly Theatre in Dublin's Belvedere College was attended by 400 people.
Mr Xi is expected to become China's next Communist Party chief and president next month.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Herald: "The Xi Jinping visit to Ireland received very extensive and positive coverage in the Chinese media," she said.
"The value of this coverage, in terms of promotion and advertising for Ireland, is significant and of a quality and level that cannot be bought.
"It was the first item on China Central Television (CCTV) news and was carried on the front page of most of the papers, including People's Daily, China Daily and the Beijing News.
"The coverage emphasised the significance of the visit in deepening the friendship and strengthening cooperation between Ireland and China.
"So the expenditure signified is justified in the cause of promoting Ireland."
In newly released figures, the department said the Riverdance show was "part of a cultural programme requested by the Chinese embassy".
It said that the Riverdance show has toured widely in China and has strong cultural resonance.
The new figures show that the Department of Foreign Affairs racked up an overall bill of €29,179 providing entertainment at a variety of events over the past year.
The department said that entertainment was provided at a number of events relating to Ireland's chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
It said that as chair, Ireland "is required to host and contribute to a number of conferences and events throughout the year".
"As well as providing valuable opportunities to promote tourism and trade, these events offer a chance to showcase Irish music, arts and culture. In this regard, four musicians were invited to perform at a cultural event marking the opening of Ireland's OSCE chairmanship at a total cost of €4,270 in January this year," it said.
The OSCE is an intergovernmental regional security organisation comprising 56 States from Europe, central Asia and North America.