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Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, will be featured in a series of short films to promote Ireland as a tourist destination.
The Canadian astronaut, who shot to fame on Twitter last year for posting pictures and videos from his space station, including his rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, arrived in Ireland on Thursday for a five-day tour of the country, tweeting: “Good Morning, Ireland! Happily headed to Dublin and Belfast, hoping to learn a cúpla focal (a couple of words).”
The retired astronaut, who became the first person to tweet from space using the Irish language, said the Irish interest in his photographs and his daughter’s happiness in making Dublin her home, convinced him to help promote the country.
“To be able to take pictures of Ireland like nobody else can do and share them was a lovely unexpected delight,” he said.
“I don‘t think you have to be from somewhere to appreciate it and maybe a stranger’s set of eyes will help other people see it even better. I’m just delighted. I’m happy to meet as many people as possible over the next few days,” he added.
Highlights from his tour of Ireland will include learning how to speak Irish during a visit to County Donegal and trying to play the Irish sport of hurling while visiting Dublin’s Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
His five-day visit, which also includes a trip to Armagh and the Glens of Antrim, will be documented by Tourism Ireland in a series of three short films aiming to showcase Ireland’s “spectacular scenery”, Gaelic games and visitor attractions, such as the Titanic Belfast and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
“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,” said the Irish Tourism Minister, Leo Varadkar.
“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,” he added.
Earlier this week, the astronaut revealed that the place that most appealed to him from the International Space Station was the wine country of New Zealand.
Hadfield, who came back to Earth last May, retired in July last year and returned to live in Canada.