Wednesday 18 September 2019

Lost in transit: Parents' ashes missing as family flies from Australia for scattering

Hopes on hold: Bob Gilmour with his wife Kristen and children Declan and Sarahhis
Hopes on hold: Bob Gilmour with his wife Kristen and children Declan and Sarahhis

Evie Kearney

A man who travelled from Australia to Ireland to scatter his emigrant parents' remains has had their ashes lost in transit by Aer Lingus.

Bob Gilmour (63) emigrated along with his parents from Ballymena, Antrim, to Australia in 1967 when he was 11.

Mr Gilmour travelled from Australia to Europe with his family this summer after his daughter was invited to train with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Milan and decided to extend their trip and bring the ashes to respect his parents' wishes.

Before their deaths, both of Mr Gilmour's parents expressed a wish to be cremated and have their remains returned to their home places, as they "never quite adapted" to their new Australian home.

"We thought since she's been invited to do that and I had my mum and my dad's ashes sitting in boxes on the mantelpiece, this is the opportunity," he said.

"All four of us will go and we will take Mum and Dad home, easy peasy."

With the help of relatives, Mr Gilmour's family organised two ceremonies - one in Ballymena and one in his mother's native Birmingham in the United Kingdom - to lay his parents to rest this week.

The family was due to spend five days in Ireland before flying to England for his mother's ceremony.

However, when they arrived in Dublin from Milan on Saturday, they found Aer Lingus had lost all of their luggage. "We got here, the bags didn't, and since then it's been just a nightmare," Mr Gilmour told the Irish Independent.

"We spoke to Aer Lingus staff at the airport and filled in the paperwork, and since then we've had nothing and nobody to deal with, bar a website and a call centre.

"I don't want to be dismissive of anybody, but the call centre has been less than useless and the website is the same.

"Kristen [Mr Gilmour's wife] has spent hours on this bloody website trying to update details of the bag."

Mr Gilmour said the inability to deal with customer service has ruined the limited time that they have in Ireland and they are now facing two ashes-scattering ceremonies without any ashes.

However, Aer Lingus said yesterday the missing bags had been located in Milan Airport and were due to arrive in Dublin last night, after which they would be "immediately transported to the family".

Irish Independent

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