Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became famous last year for singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in space, is taking on a new role as an “ambassador” for Irish tourism.
The organisation has enlisted his help to showcase some of Ireland's top visitor attractions and experiences over the coming five days.
Hadfield and his wife Helene will visit Croke Park and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. He will also visit Donegal – where he will learn ‘Gaelic’ from some local schoolchildren. In Northern Ireland, he will visit Armagh, Cushendall, Co Antrim and the Glens of Antrim, as well as Titanic Belfast.
Tourism Ireland will create three short films of Hadfield’s five-day visit. These films will then be shared by Tourism Ireland on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, said Mr Hadfield's visit will be great for Irish tourism.
“Having seen Ireland from space, it’s great to be able to give Chris Hadfield a closer look at what Ireland has to offer on the ground."
"His enthusiasm and energy make him a great ambassador for Irish tourism, and should help to persuade many more to come and see Ireland close-up in 2014. I’m really delighted he has agreed to help us out.”
Independent.ie reports that Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland’s CEO, explained that Hadfield has shown "tremendous generosity" towards Ireland.
“We are delighted to welcome Chris Hadfield to Ireland. I would like to personally thank him for his tremendous generosity in agreeing to help us promote the island of Ireland around the world."
"Of course, he already began promoting Ireland last year, with the dramatic photos he tweeted from the International Space Station to his huge Twitter fanbase."
"Chris is an enormously popular, global figure and I am confident that our films of his visit to Ireland will be seen and shared by millions of potential holidaymakers around the world – inspiring them to come and sample the destination for themselves.”
The former astronaut became a global sensation when he used social media to tweet pictures of the Earth while commanding the International Space Station last year. His video version of David Bowie’s "Space Oddity" has been viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube.
is daughter Kristin is a PhD psychology student in Trinity College Dublin and Cmdr Hadfield visited Ireland before he became world-famous.
In an interview with The Irish Times while he was in space, Cmdr Hadfield spoke of his previous visit in Ireland in 2011.
“We went hiking in Glendalough, attended the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, drank Guinness from the rooftop panorama after the factory tour, attended Gaelic football and a hurling match (Dublin vs Cork), saw the Book of Kells, looked at a round tower, and had a chipper,” he said.