THERE were emotional and gleeful scenes as Limerick families reunited at Shannon Airport ahead of the Christmas celebrations this week.
Siblings and parents waited eagerly in the arrivals for their loved ones, who were arriving in from Manchester and London early this week.
An excited Sheila Conroy told the Limerick Leader that she was surprising her sister Liz, who moved from Rathkeale to Manchester in recent years.
“I haven’t seen her in a couple of months anyway. I am very emotional and I can’t wait to see her. We always spent Christmas together. This is just a surprise because she thinks there is nobody at the airport. You will hear me screaming now when she walks through!”
Those screams were duly heard, as the two sisters embraced each other.
“That was totally unexpected,” Liz enthused. “We have a really great Christmas ahead of us, now. I don’t head back until Monday, so it will be a good few days at home. We will make the most of it. When Sheila is around we will!”
Grandmother Nora O’Gorman excitedly waited in the arrivals for her daughter Michelle and seven-month-old granddaughter Clara, who will experience her first ever Christmas in Ardpatrick.
She said that it is going to be a “big family occasion” this year.
“For Christmas, we usually have a big dinner, and we just chill out. We will have a very traditional dinner. They love their mince pies, their homemade sausage rolls.
“For Clara’s first Christmas, I am knitting a little Santa hat and I am knitting a little cardigan for her. We want to make the most of this Christmas, so we are really looking for to it, now.”
“Delighted” to be home, Michelle said that it is a “great time to catch up” with the family, and that she will be spending her holidays in front of the fire.
It will be a “relaxing” two weeks for Banogue man Mick Maume, who welcomed his sister Peg Prendergast, who hasn’t lived in the homeland in over 55 years.
“Hopefully we will be dining out — at his cost! I don’t want to be cooking this Christmas!” Peg laughed, “It’s good to be home. I have lots of fond memories, especially from school days.”
Flying in from London was Laura Jones, of Newport, who was greeted by mother Martina and sister Jayne, who were both dressed for the occasion; wearing reindeer antlers and Christmas colours.
Martina said that waiting for her daughter is “the best part of Christmas.
“This Christmas, we have a dinner planned with other family members. Other than that, we will just take it easy; watch movies and put the feet up. We miss Laura terribly all the time. I can barely say that without crying.”
Jayne added that having her sister home is the “best present”, since Laura left the country to pursue a career in primary teaching, two years ago.
“I am very close to her, she is like my best friend. It was hard when she went,” she said.
Local family and friends arriving home this Christmas are among 57,000 passengers who have been through Shannon Airport so far for the holiday season.
This is an estimated 4% more passengers making the journey home through Shannon, in comparison to passenger numbers last Christmas.
It is the third successive growth in these passenger numbers since it was made independent in 2013, according to a spokesperson for the airport.