Disappointment on the western front
BRIGHT clear skies and the slightest of breezes -- but not a single aircraft engine was running at Shannon Airport by yesterday afternoon.
Only two scheduled departures made it off the tarmac in the morning.
An Aer Lingus 7am flight to Dublin and Continental Airlines' 9am to New York departed on schedule before the skies above became eerily quiet.
Hundreds of passengers on eight other flights to the UK, Poland and France from Shannon were left with nowhere to go.
By noon, the airport was almost deserted apart from some Polish air travellers who had booked the Ryanair Wroclaw flight for 2.20pm.
Bartosz Pawlikowski (28) who lives in Claregalway, Co Galway had hoped to travel home to his niece's christening.
"I am Sonia's godfather and the christening is this Saturday. She is only a few months old, but will I get there on time now? I don't know," Mr Pawlikowski said.
"I have a little silver spoon for her and some euro as a present but I don't know if I will make it in time."
Yesterday's unprecedented flight cancellation - thanks to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud - was the latest misfortune suffered by Mr Pawlikowski.
"I lost my job last month and now this. I was last at home last year and was looking forward to meeting friends and family," he said.
"Could they not fly South and go around this? It looks fine here and the problem seems to be north of the Shannon."
Also hoping to travel home to Poland for a week's holidays was Ireneusz Mackowiak (28).
"I work in Boston Scientific in Galway and was looking forward to going home. What can I do now though? I am very disappointed," he said.
Apart from the handful of disappointed would-be passengers gathered around the Ryanair desk, Shannon Airport was a quiet building.
Security officers, cleaners and check-in staff quietly walked around the terminal while others took the opportunity to enjoy the bright sunshine outside with no fear of a noisy plane disturbing their peace.