Astronaut Chris Hadfield landed at Shannon Airport and stated it was good to be back on terra firma, the Irish version.
No, he had not landed from space but the subspace altitude plied by passenger jetliners.
Hadfield brought the International Space Station into popular culture in 2013 when he performed the David Bowie classic Space Oddity while rotating around the earth.
Canada’s most famous astronaut is a big fan of Ireland. He garnered a huge social media following the Bowie recording but he is also on record as sending the first ever tweet As Gaeilge from space later in 2013.
That tweet reached half a million people.
Such was the response to his satellite sign-post to Ireland that Tourism Ireland signed Hadfield up as an ambassador, resulting in him travelling to Ireland to record three short videos, including one on the Wild Atlantic Way.
And when he stepped back on Irish soil, he declared “It’s good to be back”.
Hadfield - a cub scout in his boyhood days - was given a warm Shannon welcome by scouts from the 1st Clare Shannon Scouts and also by Rose Hynes, Chairman of Shannon Group, Shannon Airport’s parent company, and Shannon Airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy.
Hadfield attended a reception in the airport’s presidential suite for refreshments and while there signed a VIP book that has been signed over the years by other space travelers, the most recent of which was Al Worden, one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon, and another regular visitor to Ireland.
Worden was Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
Said Hadfield: “I’ve always had an interest in Ireland and Irish culture, hence my tweet As Gaeilge from space.
“My daughter Kristin studied for her PhD to Trinity College and my niece Kelly is currently studying at the University of Limerick medical school so I have something of a love affair with this place.
“I was delighted to be a tourism ambassador for Ireland and that got me to see much more of the country than I could ever have hoped. That included a trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, which was majestic. One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited.
“And now I’m back here at Shannon Airport, the gateway for the Wild Atlantic Way and an airport with its own space links given it was a designated emergency runway for space shuttles, but thankfully was never used as an emergency.”
Hadfield arrived in ahead of the weekend’s Shannon International Leasing Conference where he was a speaker.
He also performed at a much anticipated charity gig in Limerick when he lined out for the Ghana Medical Health fund-raiser in the Clayton Hotel.