Huge interest in Cmdr Chris Hadfield’s book signing
ISS commander thanks anonymous person who bought books for people waiting to see him
Cmdr Chris Hadfield signing copies of his book in Easons today. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy
Eason ran out of all 650 copies of Cmdr Hadfield’s autobiography An Astronaut’s Guide to Life this afternoon and more had to procured from other bookshops in Dublin.
People started queuing from 8.30am this morning in the wind and rain for Cmdr Hadfield’s book signing in their branch in O’Connell Street. Eason reported it was their biggest book signing in at least three years.
Deirdre Lally and her son Luke were first in the queue. They left Birr, appropriately the place that was once the home of the world’s biggest telescope, at 5am.
“We’re running a space camp for kids,” said Ms Lally. “ We’ve been following Chris Hadfield on Twitter and YouTube. I have a three-year-old, four-year-old and seven-year-old and they love him.”
John Kearns from Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, said he was queuing for his grandson. “He wants to be an astronaut for the last four years and he’s only seven.”
The queue stretched down Middle Abbey Street as far as Arnotts at one stage. Cmdr Hadfield’s signing ran over by a half an hour and he did not get a chance to sign every book. “Unfortunately, there is only one of me. I have to catch a plane, but I will come back in January,” he said.
On his way to the airport, he tweeted: “I heard a man bought books at other shops & gave them free to bookless children in line at Eason’s. So nice - hero! Who was he? Anyone know?”
Last night he appeared on the Late Late Show and performed David Bowie’s Space Oddity, the same song he performed in orbit which has been viewed millions of times on social media.
In a hectic round of engagements today, he did a live talk from the Science Gallery and a live performance of Van Morrison’s Moondance with The Chieftains.
Cmdr Hadfield and The Chieftains duetted on the song while he was on the ISS and The Chieftains were performing in Houston, Texas.
It is the first time he has been back in Ireland since his return from space in May after six months on board the ISS.
His particular fascination with Ireland is partially cultural, because of his interest in Irish music, and partially because Ireland is right in the path of the ISS’s orbit.
“Ireland is the first place you come to after crossing the Atlantic. It’s so beautiful and green especially in Spring. I don’t think I was the first person crossing the Atlantic to think that, but I’ve done it more than most,” he told The Irish Times.
On St Patrick’s Day he wore a green dicky-bow and sang Danny Boy, his favourite song.
He said it was his wife who packed the dicky-bow and it was delivered to the ISS via a robot spacecraft.
“As commander I have to look ahead to every holiday. That was a cooperative effort between my wife and I. Each robotic ship has a little package of stuff, a small satchel for yourself. I told her to pack something for St Patrick’s Day, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. What she sent was perfect.”
Cmdr Hadfield said he was aware of the interest in Ireland in his time in space through Twitter. “Twitter’s two way. I could hear and see what people were saying. So many people were responding and sending their best wishes.”
It was his son Evan’s idea to tweet as gaeilge which he did in February this year famously writing “Tá Éire fíorálainn - land of green hills dark beer. With Dublin glowing in the night.”
“I wanted to be respectful and careful. I asked him to look it and make sure that it was just right,” he said. “By no means can I speak Irish. It is not often that anybody is going to be tweeting in Irish from space, maybe not ever.”
Cmdr Hadfield will be returning next month to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Laya Healthcare Pendulum summit in the Convention Centre Dublin on January 9th.
He will also sign copies of his book on Saturday, January 11th, at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.