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Monday 19 February 2018

'The hotel was shaking, I didn't know what was going on' - Dublin mum

Above: Tipparut and Conor Brennan with their children Ollie (10) and Gemma (8) Photo: Frank McGrath
Above: Tipparut and Conor Brennan with their children Ollie (10) and Gemma (8) Photo: Frank McGrath
Murat Karavult and Gokhan Bilgi, both from Istanbul, after they flew into Dublin Airport from Turkey. Photo: Frank McGrath
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A Dublin family has spoken of their fear after being caught up in the coup attempt in Turkey.

Tipparut Brennan (39), from Castleknock, and her children, Ollie (10) and Gemma (8), were staying in a hotel near Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on Friday night when the attempted coup unfolded.

She described scenes of chaos as thousands of panicked people swarmed the airport.

At around 1am on Saturday, she heard a loud explosion. "It wasn't far off. The building was shaking," she said.

"I heard people crying in the hallways. I was afraid to go out. I didn't know what was going on," she said.

She feared that a bomb had been detonated.

However, it later emerged that a mild earthquake struck the region as the coup was unfolding, causing buildings to shake. Two explosions were also reported around the same time at Taksim Square in Istanbul.

Read More: Fears Erdogan using coup to consolidate his power amid ruthless crackdown

The family was returning home to Ireland after a visit to Ms Brennan's native Thailand and were staying in the hotel as they awaited a flight due to depart at 7am on Saturday.

While she could see the images of the coup on television, she wasn't able to make out what was going on because it was broadcast in Turkish.

Later, after the military uprising was quashed, she witnessed Turkish citizens protesting en masse at the airport in support of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, as she arrived in Dublin Airport yesterday, Ms Brennan said the ordeal was one she will never forget, adding: "I'm thrilled to be home."

But her husband Conor Brennan said he was disappointed with the Department of Foreign Affair's helpline while the crisis was unfolding. He said the information he was given "was useless".

"All they could tell me was the same information that was on Sky News," he said.

A spokeswoman from the department was unable to comment on his complaint yesterday, although she said the department did upgrade its travel advice on its website as the situation was developing.

Meanwhile, Turkish nationals Murat Karabult and Gojhan Bilgi, from Istanbul, said the coup was terrifying. "At first, we didn't know what was happening," said Mr Karabult, who flew into Dublin yesterday for a training session. "It felt like we were under attack," said Mr Bilgi.

Irish Independent

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