Flying home for Christmas: ‘I was like a child getting off the plane’

Families greet loved ones at Dublin Airport as 45,000 expected to pass through daily

Inside Dublin airport's terminal one arrivals on Thursday, dressed in Christmas jumpers and Santa hats, Gloria and Paul Bellew waited to greet their son for the first time in two years.

“I think I’m going to cry,” Ms Bellew said, explaining that her son, Mark, had been living in Vancouver for three years and was returning for his first Christmas with his parents since 2019.

“We’re going to spoil him rotten. We’ve overspent on him already,” she said. “He came back more in his first year of living over there but with Covid and everything we haven’t seen him in two years.”

With the rise in cases of the Omicron variant and new restrictions, there was uncertainty about whether Mark would make it back this year, but Ms Bellew told her son to “stay in your house all week, don’t move until you get your test, you could get it even going to the shop for milk”.


“But he rang me then saying he got the test and it was negative. We’re delighted. We’ll go back to Meath now together,” she said.

Busiest day

Thursday was the second-busiest day during the Christmas season at Dublin Airport this year, after the busiest day on December 19th.

Between now and January 4th, an average of 45,000 departing and arriving passengers are expected each day.

This compares to an average of 12,000 passengers a day over the Christmas season last year, and 77,000 a day in 2019.

On Thursday, a handful of flights landed from around Europe and a small number of family members waited inside Terminal 1 for their loved ones.

Sisters Sandra Buckley and Janet Lynch from Dublin waited for their brother to arrive home from the Netherlands with his seven-month-old daughter. Their own children were waiting with them, holding handmade welcome signs.

“We’re just so excited to have him back,” Ms Buckley said, explaining that it had been “a bit uncertain” in the last few weeks after the Netherlands went into partial lockdown.

“He was home last Christmas but our other brother didn’t get home from London. They’re both home this year, though, and there’ll be 14 of us celebrating on Christmas Day,” Ms Lynch said.

Five years

Emer Ryan, from Wicklow, made it home for Christmas with her fiance, David Simmons, for the first time in five years.

“We didn’t get here last year so I was like a child getting off the plane today,” she said.

“We’ve missed so much over the last two years. My dad is outside waiting for us now, and my mam is at home with the fry on. It’s the most Irish thing ever.”

Erica Golubovskyte, who's originally from Lithuania and has lived in Kerry for five years, welcomed her parents over to visit for Christmas.

“It’s been so uncertain – two days ago we were still wondering if they’d make it. I’m delighted to have them over.”

The family will drive back to Kerry for the Christmas period, not before stopping for a cup of tea to catch up, she said.