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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Getting home was music to Chieftain Paddy's ears

Shane Hickey

THEY trickled through the arrivals hall exhausted and weary, but overjoyed at finally being home.

The ground floor of Dublin Airport was yesterday once again home to the reunions and ecstatic welcomes that have been absent since the effects of the ash cloud took hold.

A Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta brought the first tranche of passengers back to Dublin since last week.

Among them was Paddy Moloney from The Chieftains, who had been in Florida for some rest and recuperation following a seven-week tour around the United States.

"I was supposed to travel last Friday after a hell of a few months. It is great to be home. It was stressful in that you didn't know what was happening and were you going to get home and I have a lot of little things to be doing in the next few days. I am glad I made it," he said.

"I was having a holiday after a seven week tour around the US. I have been out there since January. It is so good to be home, I can tell you."

Many of the travellers spoke of lengthy delays. Michael and Bernadette Heaney from Newry had been stranded in Atlanta with their children Joe (12), Georgia (10) and twins Annabelle and Christina (8) since last Thursday. "It is a big relief.

"You think you are there for an extra week's holiday but it wasn't really a holiday because you are worried about getting home," Mr Heaney said.

"At the airport we were given an emergency pack of a toothbrush, toothpaste and a razor each. We got our taxi down to Atlanta and got our own hotel as did everyone else. We would like to be reimbursed but we don't know what will happen," Mrs Heaney said.

"There was doubt every hour. We had to ring twice a day and every hour on the last day. Then it was only when the flight took off, an hour late, were we sure that we were going to be in the air."

For many, the fact they were now back on home turf eclipsed any of the frustration that had built up over the last week.

"I took off last Friday from Chicago and got turned around midair. It was bound for Dublin. It turned back after three hours. They explained there was volcanic ash and they had to avoid it. I had been there on company business so I was able to work away through email and through conference calls," Mark Fitzgerald, from Waterford, said.

"It was inconvenient but it wasn't the end of the world, I have seen worse things happen. I am delighted to be home now."

Irish Independent

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