Hugs and tears at Dublin Airport as families part after Christmas

‘It’s sad to say goodbye, but we have our lives over there now’

The journey back to jobs and lives abroad after the Christmas break has begun at Dublin Airport with emotional scenes as parents and grandparents say goodbye to the thousands of Irish people who live outside of Ireland. Video: Bryan O'Brien


There were emotional scenes at Dublin Airport this week as families said goodbye to the thousands of Irish people who live abroad but came home for Christmas.

Cathal and Marian McDermott said goodbye to their daughter Aoife, son-in-law Stephen and granddaughter Kealy Maguire who went back to Melbourne, Australia after five weeks here. “It’s pretty tough”, Stephen said, “it’s the first time home for Christmas.”

Ciarán Sheehy hugged his parents goodbye after surprising them with a trip home for Christmas. His mother Moira said: “I’m feeling very sad because we hadn’t seen him for about 20 months and then he came home unexpectedly for Christmas. We’d a lovely 10 days...he’s gone home now, so back for another year or two.

“You have to let them go for them to come back...and I think if you’ve reared them to be independent enough to go an do that then you’ve done a good job,” Moira said.

Lesley, Frank and baby Thomas Gilligan were headed back to Brisbane, Australia after a family wedding and Thomas’ christening during the Christmas period. “It’s sad to say goodbye, but we have our lives over there now,” Frank said.

Cathal McGlone, who lives in Washington DC in the US, spent his first Christmas in Ireland in three years with his parents Paul and Mary McGlone, his partner Taylor Ginder and their daughter Grace. “You miss family, but then you have a life on the other side of the pond so it’s good and bad.”

Mary said that while it is tough, “Skype makes it so much easier, it’s so different from when my brothers went to New York so many years ago.”

Suzanne, Kieran and little Cara Kenny came home for Suzanne’s brother’s wedding in Cork. “It’s sad leaving everyone behind, our family aren’t there so we miss her [CARA)]spending time with them.”

Mary O’ Byrne said goodbye to her brother and his family who have lived in Boston for the last 30 years. “They come home every Christmas and they’re just going back now after three weeks. Goodbye is always sad.”

Caroline Elliot said a tearful goodbye to her son who was heading back to San Diego in the US to complete his post-doc.

“It’s sad, but he’s young and he has his life to live, so it’s positive too.” Up to 28,300 Irish people are estimated to have emigrated from Ireland in the year up to April 2018. An estimated one million Irish people live outside of Ireland.