WITH the Irish Open at Royal Portrush fast approaching, a new star of Northern Ireland golf is grabbing the attention of millions of television viewers in the run up to the event.
His name is Bramble and golf fans throughout Ireland have enjoyed watching him sink putts at the famous north coast golf course on TV. What people don’t know is that this particular golfer, from Crumlin in County Antrim, happens to be blind.
Another remarkable fact is that this new rival to Northern Ireland’s ‘holy trinity’ of golf – Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke - is only one year old.
Yes the latest golfing sensation to come from the new ‘home of golf’ is none other than Bramble the Hedgehog, the unexpected star of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s latest television commercial to promote this year’s Irish Open which is taking place in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1953 when it was hosted at Belvoir Park in Belfast.
Bramble is currently a permanent resident of a Wildlife Centre in Crumlin run by TACT (Talnotry Avian Care Trust), a charity which cares for and rehabilitates sick, injured and abandoned wild birds and mammals. Bramble was brought in from the wild when he was just a few days old and being blind has been lovingly looked after ever since.
The fame-hungry hedgehog was selected to be involved in the ad but as NITB destination marketing and PR manager Ruth Burns explains, she wasn’t expecting Bramble to become the star of the show.
“We chose Bramble to appear as an extra in the advert with shots of him scurrying across the green but he ended up impressing us all as he knocked the ball into the hole which was the perfect finish to the advert, and all the more remarkable when you consider that he is blind.
“He’s now become the most talked about hedgehog in Northern Ireland and I’m pleased to say that he seemed to enjoy the experience as much as any of us.”
The TV advert is part of an all-Ireland marketing drive to promote the Irish Open as a key event in NITB’s ongoing ‘ni2012: Our Time Our Place’ campaign. The campaign runs across TV, radio and press with outdoor advertising at key ports of entry to the country and additional promotional literature distributed to golf clubs across Ireland. The TV campaign teed off in the Republic of Ireland earlier this month and hits Northern Ireland screens on May 28, running until June 24.