A HALF dozen tradesmen from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) gathered with friends, colleagues and well-wishers to say goodbye to airport life last week as they took early retirement and voluntary redundancy packages from the company.The closest of the six to retirement was Willie Troy, who would have been due to retire next year but availed of an early retirement package and led the group in marking the end of decades of dedicated service at Dublin Airport. Willie is a Tipperary man originally but has spent most of his working life living in Balbriggan since he arrived at Dublin Airport an unbelievable 43 years ago where he has worked as a fitter ever since. He will have plenty to occupy him in his retirement as an active member of O'Dwyer's GAA Club where he has been proud to share some of his knowledge of hurling picked up in his native Tipperary, with the Balbriggan club. According to his colleagues, he was a brilliant tradesman and a great character and a wealth of knowledge leaves Dublin Airport with him. All of that could similarly be said about Mick O'Grady, who leaves the company after 33 years working as an electrician at Dublin Airport. The 59-year-old lives in Whitehall and is a keen sportsman who has played Senior Gaelic Football with St Vincent's and also played soccer to a very high level. He joined Shay McGovern and Ken Hughes in leaving the company having served at Dublin Airport for more than three decades each. Shay was a carpenter working out of the maintenance base, while Ken Hughes from Swords was an electrician for 31 years at Dublin Airport. Two of the younger men of the six were Paul Byrne and Alan Morrison who were both leaving the company after taking voluntary redundancy. Paul worked as an electrician on keeping all that machinery going that sorts out your bags between the luggage carousel and the aircraft while Alan, another electrician, plans to go back to college to do a degree in electrical engineering. All six men and about 100 guests, including some returning retired colleagues, marked the occasion at the ALSAA bar where a memorable night of craic, reminiscing and story-swapping was had by all.