Families cheer brave soldiers home after mission in Lebanon
EXCITED wives, children, and parents packed out Dublin Airport's arrivals lounge yesterday as they anxiously awaited a planeload of Defence Forces troops to land.
Welcome-home banners and tiny infants were held aloft as hundreds of relatives strained to find their loved ones among the 220-strong troop of weary soldiers who arrived home after a five-month tour of duty in Lebanon.
As the electronic doors of the airport arrival's lounge flew open a resounding cheer went up.
Soon scores of blue beret-wearing soldiers of the 104th batallion began to rush toward the welcome embrace of their loved ones.
Soldiers openly wept tears of joy as they embraced children who had grown exponentially since they last saw them, kissed their wives and hugged family and friends.
Among the troops was a tearful, but delighted, mum, Private Michelle Tarpey from Co Cavan who was reunited with her fiance and three-year-old daughter Grace.
"I missed her so much," said Pte Torpey as her little girl clung to her.
"It was incredibly hard being away from Grace. I was able to speak to her and watch her grow on Skype, but it is just not the same as having her here in my arms," she said.
Private James Dunne from Co Laois was holding back tears as he was handed his little boy, five-month-old Andrew.
It was his only his second time seeing baby Andrew since he was born -- he had been unable to attend the birth.
"It feels absolutely incredible to hold him. I can't describe how good it feels," he said.
Corporal Derek Carlin from Co Galway and new baby Kaylah also met yesterday for the second time.
"It's so amazing to hold her, I thought she would be strange but she is fine, she is busy chewing away on my uniform," he said.
For Captain Ian Kilbride from Athlone, Co Roscommon, being reunited with his father, who had also served in Lebanon, was a proud moment.
"It is unbelievable to be home. Dad collected me today which was poignant as I remember welcoming him back myself 12 years ago," he said.