Northern Ireland’s Irwin’s Bakery has been appointed one of the lead ’ambassadors for Ireland’ by Tourism Ireland, partnering with the tourist board in a series of initiatives in Britain, including large-scale sampling events in London and Glasgow over St Patrick’s Day on 17 March.

This tie-up with the Irish tourist authority is a result of Irwin’s success with the Rankin Selection traditional Irish breads range, made in conjunction with Irish chef Paul Rankin. In 2007, Irwin’s sold some 15 million loaves in Britain and Rankin Selection achieved £11.5 million in export sales.

Tourism Ireland spotted the potential to reach a massive external audience. There will be a high visibility on-pack marketing campaign on Rankin Selection products, encouraging consumers to visit Ireland for its gourmet heritage.

"We are extremely proud to be considered as an ambassador for all that is great about Ireland," said Michael Murphy, commercial controller of Irwin’s Bakery.

David Boyce, of Tourism Ireland, added: "Irwin’s success in selling an inherently Irish product to GB consumers helps prime consumers to take the next step and visit Ireland ? not just for its beauty but also for its cuisine."