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No kisses but joy aplenty for Ireland's returning exiles who arrived home for Christmas without fanfare at Dublin Airport

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Joanna Long is greeted by her nephew Senan Long (9) after she arrived in Dublin Airport from Zurich. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Joanna Long is greeted by her nephew Senan Long (9) after she arrived in Dublin Airport from Zurich. Picture: Gerry Mooney

A woman peers through the glass for her loved one as the arrivals hall is closed to the public in Dublin Airport.  Photograph by Gerry Mooney

A woman peers through the glass for her loved one as the arrivals hall is closed to the public in Dublin Airport. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

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Joanna Long is greeted by her nephew Senan Long (9) after she arrived in Dublin Airport from Zurich. Picture: Gerry Mooney

A small number of Ireland's returning exiles arrived yesterday for Christmas without fanfare at Dublin Airport.

There was hardly a murmur in the Arrivals hall of Terminal One as Covid restrictions meant no greetings were allowed inside the building.

Absent were the excited crowds of families greeting loved ones, and not a single musical note from traditional carol singers was heard.

The numbers arriving were down almost 90pc on last year. Arriving passengers walked through an almost silent terminal. But many of them showed delight when they emerged outside to find a family member or friend waiting on the kerbside.

Joanna Long (40) arrived on a flight from Zurich. "I haven't been home for a year," she said, as she looked forward to visiting her parents Bina and Joe Long in Cabinteely in Dublin.

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A woman peers through the glass for her loved one as the arrivals hall is closed to the public in Dublin Airport.  Photograph by Gerry Mooney

A woman peers through the glass for her loved one as the arrivals hall is closed to the public in Dublin Airport. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

A woman peers through the glass for her loved one as the arrivals hall is closed to the public in Dublin Airport. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

She was greeted outside the terminal by her nine-year-old nephew Senan and her brother Killian, who told the Sunday Independent: "It's brilliant to have her home. We've seen her on Zoom but seeing her in person is way better. Our parents have been looking forward to seeing her for ages."

Joanna lives in Switzerland where she is a lawyer working for a bank. Her husband Olivier will spend Christmas with his parents in Belgium.

"I got a PCR test and it was negative. I've booked another test here on Christmas Eve and I'll be self-isolating. I usually have a reunion with school friends at Christmas but this year it'll be on Zoom," she said.

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The unusually quiet arrivals hall in Dublin Airport.  Photograph by Gerry Mooney

The unusually quiet arrivals hall in Dublin Airport. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

The unusually quiet arrivals hall in Dublin Airport. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Janine Briscoe (28) arrived from South Korea.

"I'm hungry. I didn't take off my mask on the flights, not even to have something to eat," said Janine, who teaches English in a school in Seoul. Her mask is attached to a chain which means she can remove it without touching it and she can leave it hanging on the chain for a few moments rather that stuffing it unhygienically into a bag or a pocket.

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"A mask has hardly left my face in months and I'll been staying masked in Ireland," said Janine, who underwent a test before flying and will be self-isolating while she awaits another test in Ireland on Christmas Eve. She said South Korea is one of the most successful countries in the world in battling Covid. On the day she left South Korea, there were 11 deaths out of a population of 51 million.

At one stage when she was quarantining in her home in Seoul, a government official visited her every day to check that she was adhering to the rules.

She said South Korea's success comes from highly effective contact tracing and tracking of movements.

Janine was greeted by her mother Grainne Briscoe and brother Brian, who were ready to whisk her home to Skerries, Co Dublin. Grainne said: "I was nearly in a state of panic while I waited for the results of her Covid test before she flew."

Annmarie and Matthew Weston arrived from Liverpool to visit Annmarie's parents in Fermoy, Co Cork. Also arriving were Dr Fiona and Seamus Long who were travelling from Liverpool to Douglas in Cork to introduce their parents to their new baby grandson Senan.

An estimated 137,000 people are due to travel through Dublin Airport this Christmas compared with the almost 1.2 million people who passed through the airport during the same period last year. About 127,000 of those passengers are travelling to and from Ireland during the Christmas period, while about 10,000 people are connecting passengers who pass through Dublin Airport.

Between December 21 and January 4, there will be around 8,615 people departing and arriving daily, compared with an average of 83,508 daily last year.


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