Tears of joy as Irish soldiers arrive home safe from the Golan Heights
Published 09/04/2016 | 02:30
Soldiers were given a heroes' welcome as they arrived at Dublin Airport from a tense six-month mission in the Golan Heights.
Around 100 members of the 50th Infantry Group of the Irish Defence Forces cried tears of joy as they were reunited with wives, children, friends and family. Pte Stephen Cronin from Cobh was beaming as he swept his five-week-old daughter Robyn into his arms.
Cronin returned home briefly for the birth of his child but hasn't seen her in four weeks.
"There's a huge change," he beamed as he kissed her head, with his partner Jade White (25) by his side.
"It was a tough experience but it's great to be back now," he added.
Around the arrivals hall of Dublin Airport, children waved Tricolours and banners.
There were tears and cries of joy as the soldiers returned from Tel Aviv.
Brothers Luke (5) and Dara (2) O'Mahony held up a hand-drawn poster reminding their father, Pte Robert O'Mahony, that they had been counting down all 185 "sleeps" since he last tucked them into bed.
"They're so excited," said the boys' mum Bernadine O'Mahony. But the long wait was worth it as Robert kissed his wife and sons and spoke of his joy of finally being home.
"It was slow enough the last couple of weeks but thank God we're here," he said. "It's great to be back."
The family is now looking forward to a well-deserved holiday in Lanzarote after Robert's fraught six-month tour of duty, which had everyone on a knife edge, said Bernadine.
"It was his first tour with our two kids so it's been quite emotionally hard for us, but we got through it," she added.
Her husband has been on two previous peacekeeping tours of Chad and Liberia, but the stint in the Golan Heights was the most stressful.
The UN peacekeeping mission was to supervise an "area of separation" in the Golan Heights region separating Israel from war-torn Syria.