Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

The kindness of strangers

‘The security check at Dublin Airport can be the most pitifully lonely place as an emigrant’

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 20:00


This letter to the editor, published on Thursday, got a strong reaction from readers on our Facebook page, so we thought we’d re-post it here for those who might have missed it on the main website… Have you had similar check-in experiences?

Tríona Sorensen

Last Sunday, I left Ireland after a two-week holiday to return to Denmark, my home for the last four years. Saying goodbye to my family is inevitably always a tearful affair, but when going though the security check, one of the airport personnel took one look at my face, looked me in the eye and asked a very simple question, “Did you just say goodbye?”. This prompted a fresh flood of tears while she very gently and calmly helped me sort out my bags, buggy and young daughter, talking to me all the while until she could see I’d managed to get myself a little more together. Then she wished me well on my journey home and sent one emigrant on her way with a lighter tread.

The security check at Dublin Airport can be the most pitifully lonely place as an emigrant; you’re surrounded by people excited to be leaving the country on holiday, looking forward to leaving those shores and yet you stand there, absurdly queuing with laptops and liquids in hand while your heart is breaking, and all you want to do is turn around and run back to the family you’ve just said goodbye to. Those few moments grace that she bestowed on me reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

Don’t ever underestimate the impact a gesture or a word can have on someone’s day – I don’t even know her name but I’ll always remember what she did for me that day.