Wednesday 18 October 2017

Extra wait worth it for peacekeepers 'ecstatic' to be home with family

Capt Gary Ryan from Kildare is greeted by his wife Edel and daughters, Molly (7) and Ella (2)
at Casement Aerodrome as he returned home following a six-month deployment Photo: Collins
Capt Gary Ryan from Kildare is greeted by his wife Edel and daughters, Molly (7) and Ella (2) at Casement Aerodrome as he returned home following a six-month deployment Photo: Collins
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Irish peacekeepers had to hold on a day longer before being reunited with loved ones after a technical fault with their plane - but for the 130 troops it was well worth the wait.

Emotional scenes unfolded at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel as the 55th Infantry Group returned home from a six-month tour of duty in the Golan Heights in Syria.

Children, partners, parents and siblings waited excitedly for their arrival, with many holding homemade banners aloft.

Sisters Lauren and Ava Phelan went all out and wore t-shirts with their dad's picture printed on them. "We can't wait to see our daddy," they said.

While many troops will be spending the next few weeks relaxing, Kevin Foley will be busy getting ready for his wedding day on November 2. The Dublin man had tears in his eyes as his fiancée Mary Claire McEvoy greeted him with a sign saying "Your next mission awaits...can we get married now?"

"I'm over the moon, I'm just delighted," he said. "It's an unbelievable feeling coming home."

Alan Smith, from Glendalough, Co Wicklow, described the atmosphere on the plane as they touched down on Irish soil. "There was big roars on the aeroplane, everyone was ecstatic to arrive back. Most of the lads were on their first trip so it's great to be home. My one-year-old daughter started walking while I was gone, she is running around the house now," he said.

Joe Foyle, from Co Laois, arrived home to his two four-month-old twins. His partner Deirdre held one in each arm as she eagerly anticipated his arrival.

"The hard work starts now with these two," Joe said, before Deirdre quipped "That's what he thinks...they're actually sleeping at night now so the hard work is all done."

Irish Independent

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