Thursday 23 November 2017

From tour of duty to nappy duty Our troops come home

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

LITTLE Robyn McMahon set eyes on her dad for the first time, gave a big yawn and then promptly fell asleep in his arms.

As 186 Irish troops were welcomed home by family members from a four-month tour of duty in Chad, Private Robbie McMahon (21) held his eight-week-old daughter for the first time.

"She's beautiful," he said as friends and family surged around him in the arrivals hall at Dublin Airport.

His partner, Amy McHugh (19), from Finglas in Dublin, will be looking forward to sharing nappy duty now that Robyn's dad is home.

"I can't wait to see what he's like with the baby," she said.

All around the airport, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children welcomed home their loved ones after a tour of duty lasting almost four months.

Corporal Emmett Eiffe, who was one of the first of the Irish peacekeeping troops on the ground in Chad and who helped to build the Irish camp at Goz Beida, was also among the last to leave.

He found a novel way of keeping in touch with his three children, Saskia (7), Jessica (5) and Daniel (2), back home in Mountnugent in Co Cavan.

"Before I left I recorded two hours of video of me reading them bedtime stories and then they watched them each night," he explained.

For his wife Eithne, it was great to finally have him home.

"He's missed everyone's birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but he's back in time for Daniel's third birthday on Saturday so we'll be having a big party," she said.


For Corporal Paula Quinn, from Newbridge, Co Kildare, this was her first overseas mission since becoming a mum to Ellie (3) and Conor (1).

She had previously served with the Irish peacekeeping mission in Liberia, however Chad proved much more difficult.

"There were very harsh conditions but we get through it. It's hard but it's part and parcel of the job and I've enjoyed it at the same time," Corporal Quinn added.

Irish Independent

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