Tears at the terminal as families are reunited at airport
FOR one little girl a very special man is paying her a visit this Christmas, but instead of coming on a sleigh from the North Pole, he arrived on a plane from the Middle East.
Hannah (3) and her mum Leona Parsons (26), from Tipperary, waited excitedly in the bustling Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport for Ashley Deegan (26) to arrive home for Christmas from Qatar where he has been working as a quantity surveyor since May.
Hannah held a 'Welcome Home Daddy' sign as big as herself decorated with stickers and tinsel and made a beeline for Ashley with her arms outstretched when she caught a glimpse of him.
Delighted to see him she showed him her dress. "It's a beautiful dress. You are so pretty," Ashley told her.
"I'm very happy to be home," he admitted. "It is hard to be away, but it won't be for too long."
Meanwhile, all four of the Hanna siblings will be under one roof for the first time in four years this Christmas in Drogheda, Co Louth. The youngest, Ornaith Hanna (26), tried to make her homecoming a surprise. However, as siblings do, her brother Donal spilled the beans, and as a result the ex-pat herself was the one surprised at the airport by her whole family.
Ornaith has been working as a civil engineer for the past three years in Perth, Australia. There were laughs, cheers and even a few tears shed at the reunion.
"I'm absolutely delighted," said Ornaith. "I was the one who was supposed to surprise everyone."
There were emotional greetings as the diaspora from down under was coming home in their droves.
Tracey McGrane, from Drimnagh, Co Dublin, came home to spend Christmas with her family, from Perth, where she has been since January with her partner Liam.
There was a big greeting party waiting, including her sisters and her mum Joan and dad John.
And she got to meet her niece, six-month-old Arwen, for the first time since she was a newborn.
"I love it out there," she said. "There are loads of Irish and it makes it easy to settle in. The weather is good. I do miss home though. I'm so happy to be home for Christmas. I've been counting down the days." Her niece Hannah (12) was delighted to have her favourite aunt home. "I like her because she brings me shopping," she said with a smile.
Also from the 'Land of Oz' came Sean Boyle (24), from Forkhill in Armagh, and Jen McShane (22), from Dundalk, Co Louth, as they celebrated their first Christmas in Ireland in three years.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic," said Sean. "Coming through the door we weren't expecting all our families to be here, all my little cousins and nieces and nephews and everything. It's unbelievable."