FLIGHTS from the UK and America to Shannon this week are leading to hundreds of reunions in the airport’s arrivals area.
On Wednesday morning Michael Doyle, who previously lived in Doonbeg before moving to Co Limerick, was waiting to see his daughter Lauren, who is a social worker in London.
“She hasn’t been back for about six months now, so we’re looking forward to getting her home,” Michael told The Champion.
As he was speaking, Lauren arrived and embraced her father.
“I’m going to relax for the week really. It was a packed flight, but it was nice and quick,” she smiled.
Alice O’Connell was there with her two sons, as they waited to greet Alice’s sister and grandnephew, who are now based in London – “I’m delighted, I can’t wait to see them.”
When Alice’s sister Jacqui Moloney arrived, she had 14-month-old KJ with her, and Jacqui said it was the little boy’s fifth flight of his short life.
“His parents are coming home tomorrow by ferry. It’s great to arrive in with all the entertainment and everything,” she said, as children from St John’s National School filled the air with Christmas songs.
A very special rendition of 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town' by St. John's National School, Shannon, who performed an Irish Sign Language version this morning! 🎶 🎅
— Shannon Airport (@ShannonAirport) December 21, 2022
Two Tipperary sisters, Gayle and Sinead embraced, Sinead having arrived earlier from Canada and Gayle just after getting off a London flight.
“We come over every Christmas so it’s very nice,” said Sinead.
Shannon O’Flynn brought her daughters Saoirse (3) and Havana (5) from London, and when the two little girls met their granny Kathleen there were hugs and squeals of excitement.
“I moved to London 15 years ago, I’ve two little kids and they’re home to see their grandmother. They’re so excited, counting down the days, really excited,” said Shannon.
Kathleen was probably as excited as her granddaughters.
“Oh God, I’ve been counting the days down. It’s lovely to have Santy back at the house, it’s really nice. It’s been a good few years.”
Originally from Kilmaley, Cathal Fitzpatrick has been in London for the last 25 years.
He returned with his family on Wednesday morning, where his father Charlie was waiting.
“My parents live in Galway City so we’re up there for the week,” said Cathal.
His wife Denise also said she was excited to have arrived.
“We love it, love going to Galway for the Christmas markets, we haven’t been over for a few years so we’re delighted.”
For his part Charlie was beaming, but in typical Irish male fashion he wasn’t getting too sentimental.
“It’s nice to have them for a few days. It’s nice to see them come but it’s very nice to see them go too,” he joked.
Shannon Airport is expecting to welcome almost 75,000 passengers through its doors from this week to the New Year
It will be the airport’s busiest Christmas season since before the pandemic.
CEO of the Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine said, “We know this Christmas will be a special time for many families. It’s wonderful to see passengers arriving home to loved ones or heading off this week, with some experiencing a family gathering for the first time in a few years.
“Our team is on hand to welcome all those travelling through the airport. One of our top priorities is to ensure everyone’s journey through Shannon Airport is as easy and enjoyable as possible this festive season.
“As we look towards the new year, we are delighted to offer 32 destinations from Shannon Airport for 2023. Our aviation development team have done fantastic work in securing a number of new routes for Summer ‘23 to Porto, Naples, Bezier, Newcastle and Liverpool with Ryanair and a daily service to Chicago with United.
“On behalf of all our team, I would like to wish all our passengers a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.”
Shannon’s terminal building has been decked with festive decorations which include a 12-foot tree in the arrival’s hall and a life-size Santa sleigh for visitors to sit-in and take memorable photos.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.