Monday 19 August 2019

Family's relief after ashes of Irish emigrant arrive just hours before ceremony

The Gilmour family pictured at their Dublin hotel. (L-R) Declan Gilmour, Kristen Hynes, Bob Gilmour and Sarah Gilmour
The Gilmour family pictured at their Dublin hotel. (L-R) Declan Gilmour, Kristen Hynes, Bob Gilmour and Sarah Gilmour

Michelle Devane

An "emotional" and "upsetting" few days have come to an end for an emigrant family who have finally scattered the ashes of their loved one in Northern Ireland.

Bob Gilmour was unsure whether they would ever be able to scatter the ashes of his parents after the urn containing their remains was lost en route to Ireland.

He had travelled from Australia with his wife Kristen Hynes and two children, Declan and Sarah, to fulfil the wishes of his parents, Sam and Marjorie, who wanted to be laid to rest in their home places of Northern Ireland and England.

Born in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Sam Gilmour met his wife Marjorie, who was from Birmingham, while serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

They emigrated to Australia in 1967.

They told their son before they died that they wanted their ashes scattered on the family graves in their home countries.

But the family were left in limbo for almost four days when they arrived in Dublin from Italy and learned that Aer Lingus had mislaid their luggage containing the ashes.

It was Wednesday morning, just hours before a planned memorial in Ballymena, that the baggage was returned.

Ms Hynes said it had been an "emotional" and "upsetting" few days for the family, who had planned the trip for years.

"The baggage arrived two hours before the memorial service," she told PA.

"Thankfully, at least, it did turn up in time. It was a complete relief... It's a long way to come to lose the reason that you came."

She said it was not "so much the stress" about the bags going missing as the "disappointment" that the airline was not doing more to help them.

"It became so frustrating that we didn't hear back from anybody (at the airline)," she said, adding that when she did get through to someone they "couldn't tell her anything".

Aer Lingus apologised to the family for any inconvenience caused.

A spokeswoman said: "Aer Lingus has confirmed that the missing baggage was located in Milan Malpensa Airport. Regrettably it was not loaded on to the Aer Lingus flight by the baggage handlers at Malpensa Airport.

"The baggage arrived overnight (on Tuesday) into Dublin Airport, where it was immediately transported to the family. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused."

Ms Hynes said the family will now travel to Birmingham to scatter Marjorie's remains. But she said the urn would not be in the hold this time around.

"We've got her and she won't be going in the luggage underneath the plane this time around, we'll be carrying her ashes in our hand luggage," she said.

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