Moment a returning Irish soldier meets 10-day-old baby son for first time
This is the moment an Irish soldier, returning home from the troubled Middle East, met his baby son for the first time.
His face filled with joy, Private Jordan Poole gently cradled ten-day-old Ryan, nuzzling him and staring at him in awe as his partner, Geniene, looked on.
The soldier finally held Ryan after safely completing a six-month deployment thousands of miles away in At Tiri, in southern Lebanon.
The baby was due on December 6, but was 26 days premature.
Holding Ryan carefully in his arms, Private Poole said he found the last few days "stressful" after learning his partner had gone into labour early.
"I just got on with things. But I was anxious to get home...it's a long way but I got here eventually," he told independent.ie
"I couldn't wait to get home to hold my new son."
He had only seen his newborn online - and in photographs sent to his mobile phone.
"I'm delighted that everything is going well with him."
And now that he's back home he said he's looking forward to "daddy duties", changing nappies and helping out with the "night feeds."
He was among 181 Irish soldiers who received a rock-star reception at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnell this afternoon.
They were greeted by a small army of young, smiling faces, when they touched down on Irish soil shortly after 1.45pm.
Cheering crowds and flag-waving schoolchildren greeted the soldiers in an emotional homecoming for the members of the 45th Infantry Group.
Loud cheers went up from proud family members, friends and flag-waving supporters when the first tranche emerged from the arrivals area.
More than 150 well-wishers waving balloons, Irish flags and 'Welcome Home' banners formed a giant homecoming party.
Wives, children, girlfriends, parents, and extended family, rushed en masse to hug their loved ones.
The peacekeeping contingent, led by Lt Col Kevin Campion from Co Galway, has members from 22 counties on both sides of the border.
But the contingent is drawn mostly from Cork and Kildare, and formed part of the overall United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Among the arrivals was Battalion Quarter Master Sergeant Brian Cronin (45), who has completed 12 tours overseas, and was a member of three previous stints with UNIFIL.
Surrounded by “Welcome Home Daddy” banners made by the families of the troops, Sgt Colin McNama was flanked by two of his children.
"All the kids have been talking about is Christmas and Santa coming down the chimney so it's a different atmosphere compared to south Lebanon," he said.
"I've a baby daughter, Eve, who took her first steps about four weeks ago, and I missed that.
"I've been getting little snippets of video on WhatsApp of her walking but I can't wait to see it in person."
The main body of troops were located in the vicinity of the village of At Tiri in the often tense south Lebanon security belt.
Another contingent of 151 soldiers has replaced this group as part of Ireland's latest UN mission.