EMOTIONS were running high at Cork Airport today with a deluge of arrivals coming home for Christmas.
Ahead of their return, the airport was given a festive makeover adorned with a Christmas tree, larger than life Nutcracker figurines and a stage where earlier today the children from Kilbonane National School took pride of place singing Christmas carols as the jubilant arrivals began to flood in.
Amongst the gathered crowd, Fiona Lucey was waiting with her parents, eagerly anticipating the return of her brother Kevin and his partner to come home from Dubai.
"It’s been two years since he's been home so we’re all just so excited to see him and meet his newborn son for the first time," Fiona told The Echo.
Aisling Ryan was likewise waiting for her brother Eoghan to return home from Australia.
"We haven’t seen him for a year and a half so it’s been a long wait.
"We're so looking forward to all just catching up, chatting and eating Christmas dinner together as a family.
"My husband will be over as well so it’ll be nice for Dad to have three men in the house instead of Dad being on his own!"
Former Irish and Munster rugby legend, Moss Finn was at the airport with his wife Josephine and their dog Mindy waiting for their daughter Laura to return home from Amsterdam.
"Laura is currently working in Amsterdam.
"It's fantastic to have her home for Christmas - although she’s probably more excited to see the dog than she is us!"
In a lengthy and poignant embrace after not seeing each other for months, mother and daughter duo Sheila and Meabh MacMahon were clearly delighted to be reunited.
"I’m currently based in China so it’s taken me 20 hours to get back on Irish soil.
"I’m home for ten days now so I just can’t wait to soak up every second of it with mom and the rest of the family," Meabh said.
"You can tell by the length of the hug how far people have travelled for and how long people have been apart for!” Head of Communications at Cork Airport, Kevin Cullinane told
"There’s a lovely atmosphere in the airport around this time of year, it’s really special.
"It’s lovely to see the arrivals come in and be surprised by the live music.
"The choirs we have this year are just phenomenal," he continued.
This year, Cork Airport will welcome over 119,000 passengers this Christmas and New Year.
Over 1,000 performers from 28 school and adult choirs, from gospel to traditional and orchestral, will take to the stage in the Arrivals Hall throughout December.
As is tradition, the Frankfield Gospel Choir will finish the musical programme on Christmas Eve.
One of the last to arrive off the Cardiff flight was Lauren Healy (16) who is living in Swansea.
There to meet her was her grandfather George Healy from Knocknaheeny and judging by his ecstatic reaction, Lauren was worth the wait.
"I last saw her in February.
"My daughter is pregnant and she's due in January so unfortunately, she couldn’t travel but I’m over the moon to see Lauren."