Irish athletes return home from Boston Marathon
Runners speak of 'chaos' caused by two explosions at sports event
Orna Dilworth and Alan Dignam, from Knocklyon, who took part in the Boston Marathon, pictured on their arrival back at Dublin airport today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
A number of Irish athletes who took part in the Boston Marathon arrived home this morning.
The runners arrived in Dublin airport at 8.51am, with most met by friends and family. Runner Paul O’Meara was reunited with his wife Mary and his three children. He called the event during which two explosions were set off near the marathon’s finish line on Monday, killing three people.
“It’s unbelievable that something like this could take place. I’m just dying to have him home and to let the kids see him,” Ms O’Meara said.
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Runner Greg Fitzsimons said he was standing 100 metres from the location of the first explosion.
“We didn’t know it was an explosion. We heard a bang, but we thought it was a generator, but another one went off then and we kind of knew to just get out of there. It was chaos,” he said.
“The day started off really good. I got my time I was meant to do and changed and went back down to watch the rest of my friends coming in. We just looked up and it went off with a bang. I knew I was okay, but I was afraid another one was going to go off.”
Alan Dignam from Dublin said there was a surreal atmosphere following the first explosion.
“It was all a bit crazy, but thanks to smart phones, we were able to get in touch with our families, but I had thirty calls and loads of Facebook messages.”
Sean Smith from Newry said what was supposed to be an amazing sports event was destroyed within seconds.
“When the bomb went off, I thought it was a firework or something to do with the marathon. Everybody tried to use their mobile phones and they were all shut down. I watched it on the news and thought I was literally five minutes from being caught up in that,” he said.
“It’s pretty gross for an event which should be bringing lots of happiness for people raising so much money for charity.”
Mr Smith was not able to call his family or friends in Ireland but posted that he was ok on his Facebook page . He said the bombings would not put him off running another marathon.
A total of 108 participants in the Boston Marathon have Irish citizenship. The Department of Foreign Affairs said all have been accounted for and there have been no requests for consular assistance.