Video: Irish troops get big welcome on return from Lebanon
Wives, children and parents filled Dublin Airport’s arrivals lounge
An excited group of wives, children and parents filled Dublin Airport’s arrivals lounge today to welcome home a planeload of troops from the Lebanon.
Welcome-home banners, mini tricolours and tiny children were held aloft as scores of people clambered at the barriers to see their loved ones come through the gates.
A massive cheer went up as soon as the first blue berets and camouflage were spotted. Some soldiers burst into tears as they saw their families, particularly those with small children who had learned to walk or talk since they left six months ago.
Even the most hardened hacks and snappers among the assembled media were touched by the scenes.
Among those waiting near the gates was Bridget McCormack from Charleville Co Cork who was there with her “Irish twins”, Erin (2) and Molly (1) who were excitedly waving Irish flags. Her husband Kenneth is stationed as an engineer in the Lebanon.
“It’s been a long few months for us so the girls can’t wait to see Daddy. They’re too young to really notice yet but they talk to him on Skype; only for that, they nearly wouldn’t notice he’s away. They bounce back easily at this age. Kenneth is from Meath so we’re going up to his family to stay there for a while and to see all the relations ,” she said
Friends Aoife Phillips from Clonmel, Co Tipperary and Nina Reid from Kilkenny were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their husbands, who had shared a room together in the Lebanon. “They’re leading each other astray over there no doubt!,” laughed Nina.
Aoife had a bouquet of flowers to welcome her husband Pa Phillips, back.
“We missed our first anniversary when he was out there so I brought these to mark the occasion,” she explained.
“My husband has done a few trips away. When he was in Africa the technology wasn’t as good back then. We used to send each other letters back then but now we have Skype. It’s great because you can chat away every evening ,” said Aoife.
Proud parents Helen and Joseph O’Reilly from Clara, Co Offaly had a banner that said: ‘Welcome home to our four-year-old’, so we had to investigate.
Surely Minister for Justice Alan Shatter would have some explaining to do?
“My son Rory is the youngest. He’s our baby. I didn’t want him to grow up so I still call him my four year old. That’s what he was known as all through college and by his friends and the other officers. All the officers laugh and ask me can I be their four year old too? He’ll be really embarrassed now when he sees our sign!,” explained Helen.
“Skype is great but it’s not the same. We’re so glad he’s home and we’re really looking forward to Christmas now. There will be great celebrations tonight - I’ve a big curry made already!” said Helen.
Captain Colin Campbell from Galway had an emotional reunion with his 13-week-old daughter Ellie May, who slept soundly in his arms
“She’s changed quite a bit since I saw her last. The celebrations will be subdued. I’m just looking forward to spending time at home with my wife and daughter.”
Lieutenant Diarmuid O’Flynn from Cork was delighted to be home from his first overseas trip.
“We’re lucky enough these days with access to internet and things like Skype and Viber. It does make it a lot easier for us. We can update them on what’s happening out there and it takes you away from the mission for a few hours if you’re able to speak to people at home.”
Lieutenant Ciara Gubbins from Fermoy Co Cork was exhausted but delighted to see her family.
“For the last two months we didn’t have great communication which made it more difficult to keep in contact than the first two months.
“We still managed to reach home but it was less frequent. Tonight I’ll enjoy a meal with family and friends and then get to bed early because I’ve been travelling for hours ,” she said.