Saturday 24 August 2019

'She’s been gone for 11 months, 16 days, 14 hours and 52 minutes' - Emotional scenes at Dublin airport as Ireland's emigrants return home for Christmas

Amy Molloy and Kyran O'Brien

There were tears, hugs and massive smiles in Dublin Airport this morning, as Ireland's emigrants return home to spend Christmas with their families.

For some, the wait had been longer than others.

Carmel Murray, whose son Brian has been in Sydney for four years, said she had been planning this day for a year.

“I'm locking the doors, they're not getting out,” she laughed.

Brian’s sister Keelin hadn’t seen her brother since March 2014.

“He’s a man now…he looks like Ben Affleck!”

The Green family from Ballinteer, Dublin had been counting down the days until their daughter Rachel came home from Toronto – literally.

“She’s been gone for 11 months, 16 days, 14 hours and 52 minutes,” according to her dad, Derek.

Gary and Frances McLoaughlin from Dundalk, Louth have been living in New York for five years.

They’ve been home twice in the last year – once for the christening of Frances’s adorable godson Theo, and now for his first Christmas.

“We’re so happy to have them home, we just wish it was permanently,” said Frances’s mum Sibeal.

 When asked about a potential permanent move home, Gary didn’t rule it out.

“Not right now, maybe in the future for little ones like this [baby Theo]”.

Nicola MacArthur from Dublin had an army of friends and family to welcome her home.

“We’ve been preparing posters for her all week so we’re so happy to have her back,” her friends said.

Niamh Balfe had been gone for just six months but tears flowed as her sisters embraced her the minute she walked through the arrival doors of Terminal 2.

Sisters Audrey and Edel were delighted to have her back from Abu Dhabi.

“We’re lost without her. She’s having a great life out there, but thank god for skype”.

Niamh said everyone on her flight were in great spirits.

“That flight was packed with people coming from Australia, Tokyo, all over the world, and the buzz was great”.

Niall Prendergast from Rathfarnham, Dublin was lost for words when he was greeted by his two best friends, Brian and Ger, holding a gigantic welcome home sign…with his name spelled wrong.

He has been living in Brisbane, Australia for two years.

“They’re just two random lads who turned up with a sign and spelled my name wrong,” he laughed.

“It’s great to be back”.

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