THE Christmas homecomings have well and truly begun at Dublin Airport, with emotional scenes and human-sized surprises in store for a number of Irish families.
Both terminals have been decorated with 88,000 lights, 102 Christmas trees – and they have five Santa Claus on hand to give weary travellers a warm welcome
Raychel O'Connell (27) from Dublin made her way back from Reunion Island off the African coast yesterday, to give her family a special festive surprise.
"I'm going to pretend to Skype them, like I did last year, and then walk in the door!" she revealed.
"I haven't been home for a few years, so it will great. I brought my friends mangoes and rum as a thank you for helping me pull it off!"
Mathew Berkley (23) from Palmerstown, Dublin, was met by his father Roger.
"It's great to see him home," Roger said. "It completes the family because all of the others are home."
Mathew left Ireland in September to begin a PhD studies with NASA in Washington DC. He will return after Christmas. "I'm only home for two weeks," Matthew told the Herald.
"So I'm going to spend that time with my family and I'm looking forward to seeing my girlfriend, too."
Siblings Claire (21) and Liam Kenefick (22) from Cork flew in from New York.
"We've been in there since April. I'm waitressing and bartending and he's in construction," Claire said.
"I've missed my mammy and daddy and all my friends and my cat."
Other travellers, however, have had to wait a little longer to make it back home.
"I haven't been home in two years, so I'm delighted," said Aisling Mulcahy, who was welcomed by her mother Kay and sister Ramona.
"My boyfriend and I are working over in Toronto the past few years. We had no other option really with the recession.
"Obviously, we'd love to be here, but we can't, so we'll just enjoy the couple of weeks we have for now."
Thousands more people are expected to return home over the coming days.