Back down to Earth for Ireland’s newest tourism ambassador

Cmdr Chris Hadfield has agreed to promote Ireland without demanding a fee

Commander Chris Hadfield, who has agreed to become a tourism “ambassador” for Ireland, explains how his relationship with the island came about.


Ireland’s new tourism ambassador, Cdr Chris Hadfield, has seen more of his adopted country than any Irish person has. Sixteen times a day for five months, the International Space Station passed overhead.

Cdr Hadfield took 45,000 pictures of Earth, including hundreds of Ireland, the first land an astronaut sees after take-off from Florida.

Lots of people took notice, but none more so than in Ireland. The interest, he said, was a “lovely unexpected delight”, as his daughter Kristin is a PhD student in Trinity College Dublin. “She’d love to live in Ireland for the
rest of her life. She really likes the attitude and the culture and the way people treat each other.”

He knows a lot about Ireland from place names in songs, referencing The Road to Sligo as an old standard. “All these placenames that I have sung about and thought about.”

Cdr Hadfield became known in Ireland through Twitter and was contacted by Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons. He agreed to become a tourism ambassador, for which he is not being paid.

He has become world-famous following his stint as commander of the International Space Station. He will help promote Ireland in Canada, a market Tourism Ireland believes is underdeveloped.

He will participate in a hurling demonstration at the Na Fianna GAA club before going on to Croke Park today. Tomorrow he will do a book signing at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.

Star speaker
Yesterday he was the star speaker at the Laya Pendulum summit in the Convention Centre Dublin . He spoke of lessons learned from 30 years as an astronaut, much of it contained in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life.

Most of it was inspirational and some of it
was counterintuitive. Do sweat the small stuff. Imagine failure, not success. Imagine the worst things that can happen because, by doing so, you are on your way to ensuring it does not happen. Work hard to be competent because “the beauty of competency is it never lets you down”.