Wednesday 13 December 2017

Irish runners relieved to leave fear and chaos of city 'in lockdown'

Kevin Keane

Reunited with their loved ones, Irish survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings have spoken of the chaos and fear that gripped the city following Monday's attacks.

Tired and relieved, a large contingent from the 108 Irish runners who took part in the event arrived back in Dublin Airport yesterday, after an anxious wait in a city described as being "in lockdown".

Four-year-old Katie O'Meara rushed to her father's outstretched arms the instant he emerged from the arrivals area in Terminal 2.

He was also reunited with his wife Mary, their 17-month-old son, Oisin, and daughter Alice, who was born just eight weeks ago.

"I was lucky, my brother had been in contact with him so the first I heard was that he was fine and then we heard about the bombings," Mrs O'Meara told the Irish Independent.

Some of the Irish survivors had a narrow escape.

Greg Fitzsimons from Whitehall passed the finish line just minutes before the first explosion and was 100m away from the scene of death and carnage.

"We were watching people coming in and there was a bang which we thought was a generator or something, then there was another and people started saying, 'get out of here' and we just ran," he said.

None of the Irish people who took part in the race were injured in the explosions.

"There was a lot of fear and chaos and anxiety but at the same time there were a lot of people who put down their bags and went in to help people," Mr Fitzsimons added.

Sean Smith from Newry described walking through a city "in lockdown".

"Every restaurant has security, every hotel has security, there are flowers laid out and there are lots of people hanging about but there are police everywhere, and the FBI is everywhere."

Every street within a half-mile radius of the blasts was blocked off.

David Cunningham from Waterford saw the army, FBI, swat teams and bomb-disposal units as he walked the streets.

"I was scared that day but I would go back," Mr Cunningham said with determination.

This sentiment was echoed by Orna Dilworth, who has already started "saving the pennies" to run in Boston next year.

Ms Dilworth said the reality of what had occurred hit her the following day when she returned to the site of the attacks.

"They were ghost streets with debris everywhere," she said. "Little things like runners gels and bottles of water everywhere and you're thinking, 'I was right in the middle of it' and it was just eerie, it's just horrendous."

Irish Independent

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