The homecoming: tidings of comfort and joy abound in the arrivals area
It was the moment they had been waiting for. The electric doors at the arrivals hall in Terminal 2 slid open and then the tears started to flow. The emotional scenes yesterday morning in Dublin Airport were almost overwhelming as families and friends from all over Ireland packed the arrivals area to welcome their loved ones home for Christmas.
"We've waited 11 years for this," said mum Annette Moran as her daughter Sandra returned home for her first Irish Christmas in over a decade.
Clutching a homemade welcome sign, her two sisters, Caoimhe and Lorraine squealed with delight as they embraced their sister when she stepped into the arrivals lounge after a flight from New York.
"I'm very excited to be home, it doesn't feel real at all," said Sandra. "I'm looking forward to the Christmas dinner," she laughed.
Emma Hurley from Kells, Co Meath, who had just returned from Australia, was in tears as she met her eight-month-old niece, Aine, for the first time.
"I left to travel Australia five years ago and had been living in Brisbane," said the 39-year-old nurse.
"Then I was travelling in South America for the last three months but I'm home now, for good."
Emma's brother, Patrick Hurley (32), said: "It's very good to have her home and the family will be together now again for the first time in two years."
Siobhan Harding (69) from Greystones, Co Wicklow was there to welcome home her son and daughter's families who were both arriving from Los Angeles and Seattle on the same morning.
This was a particularly poignant moment for Siobhan, who is recovering from breast cancer.
"I'm just finished chemo and this is the first year we're all going to be together with all the babies and all the children. It'll be lovely."
After an emotional embrace, her son Stephen, who arrived with his wife and toddler, said: "It's amazing to be home. We've had some hard times this year and I couldn't get home so it's going to be a great holiday to spend at home."
His sister Elaine was also there to welcome her brother and his family. "It's been a horrible year but it's ending on a good note," she said.
Sarah Chambers (19) drove to Dublin Airport from Portadown to welcome home her boyfriend, 22-year-old Jordan Gilmore, who is studying in Nashville, Tennessee.
After dropping his luggage to embrace Sarah, Jordan answered the question as to what he was looking forward to most about Christmas by saying: "This one" as he gestured proudly to his girlfriend.
A large crowd also gathered to welcome home Michael Murphy (32) from Leixlip.
His sister Audrey won the prize of flying her brother home after entering an online competition through a simple tweet.
Michael was flown home from Canada with a day's notice and greeted by 11 family members who cheered his return.
He received a special welcome from his one-year-old niece Lucy, whom he was meeting for the first time.
"I found out I was officially coming home on Thursday, so I was having breakfast at work and a lady told me I was booked to come home on Friday," said Michael.
"It was mixed emotions - it's always nice to be home especially when you get a welcome like this."
"It's my first time home in a year and a half so I'm looking forward to white pudding and real Guinness," he added.