independent

Sunday 21 September 2014

The best Christmas gift ever!

John Manning

Published 31/12/2013 | 05:32

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Madeline Quann and her daughters Suzanna (left) and Amanda (right) learn that their loved one Gareth has come home for a surprise reunion.

FOR two local families, this was a Christmas that will never be forgotten as they were reunited with loved ones who were torn from them through emigration on a very special Late Late Show.

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FOR two local families, this was a Christmas that will never be forgotten as they were reunited with loved ones who were torn from them through emigration on a very special Late Late Show.

Two families from Malahide and Balbriggan were given the gift of a lifetime on live TV last Friday night with thanks to Supermac's and their 'Bring Them Home' campaign.

There were tears, laughter and hugs all around as Michael Murphy and his sons Patrick and Calum, and Gareth Quann, his wife Jacque and little girl Sadhbh were revealed to their respective families in surprise emotional reunions.

The second year of the annual competition gave people the opportunity to nominate loved ones thousands of miles away for free flights home over the past number of weeks.

The campaign, which ran on 2FM's Tubridy over the month of December, culminated on Friday night with two extra special stories of families separated for years, mainly due to emigration – one from Malahide and one from Balbriggan.

The surprise and elation of the Murphy and Quann families to see their loved ones made for an amazing television highlight of 2013.

A Malahide family welcomed Michael Murphy home this year for what will be his first Irish Christmas in 26 years. Michael made the move to Australia shortly after his father's death in 1987 for better job opportunities and a new life.

There he met his wife Shirley and had two children, Patrick and Calum. Aside from a visit in 1992 for his brother's wedding. He came home in 2006 when his mother sadly passed away.

In August 2012, Michael's family was hit by tragedy once more, when just two days after his 50th birthday his wife Shirley died suddenly due to a brain haemorrhage.

Michael's family, including his sister Lena, from Malahide, met his sons for the first time last Friday night on the Late Late Show, and are so grateful to finally be together at Christmas and look forward to creating happier memories.

Gareth Quann from Balbriggan moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1999 where he now lives with his wife Jacque and two-year-old daughter, Sadhbh. Despite many attempts to come home over the years, financial difficulties have made regular visits impossible.

Gareth has been unable to attend several special occasions, including his parents' 70th birthday parties and the birth of his sibling's children.

Now, as his wife Jacque is mid-way through her second pregnancy and with his mum being in poor health, sister Amanda felt it would be the perfect time for them to finally meet his family and spend Christmas together.

The Quann's were thrilled to be reunited during the exciting Late Late Show reveal which gave them an opportunity to celebrate a real family Christmas together.

Conceived by Supermac's Managing Director Pat McDonagh during the summer of 2012, the idea for 'Bring Them Home' was born out of stories of Irish emigrants abroad not being able to return for Christmas, with financial constraints being the one of the main deterrents.

Eager to help, Pat turned 'Bring Them Home' into the biggest campaign of its kind ever to be implemented in Ireland. Speaking about the initiative and its continued success this year Pat said: 'It's been fantastic to once again witness the joy and delight of reunited families who otherwise would have been facing into this Christmas season apart.

'At Supermac's we have always been focused on bringing people together and with the cost of flights remaining high this is something we're able to do to help our customers on an international scale.'

He added: 'It puts things into perspective when you're faced with people who are just happy to be together at Christmas. These families have had to deal with many personal struggles and trials alone due to emigration and financial difficulties.

'I'm delighted that Supermac's, Tubridy and The Late Late Show were able to make Christmas a lot more special for them this year.'

As the one who got to deliver the good news to the families, the Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy was touched by the emotion of it all.

'I was delighted to be part of this heart-warming campaign which reunites families over Christmas. The Late Late Show team and I found it very hard to contain our excitement as we knew that this was going to be an emotional and happy reunion for both Michael Murphy's and Gareth Quann's family. What a great way to end the show for 2013!'

Fingal Independent

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