Charlene Fay (nee Walsh) has made her life in Massachusetts, where she works as a nurse while raising her three children with American husband Bobby.
But although her home is in the US, a big part of her heart remains with her family in Cork and she returned to baptise her youngest child in Farranree church.
“That church is where my mom and dad were married and then all of us were baptised there,” Charlene said. My dad’s funeral was there, I got married there and I brought the older two, Ellie and Brady, home to be christened. And now it is Robert’s turn.”
She has only made it home once since her wedding, christening her two older children together, and at that time one of her brothers was living in Australia. So this will be the first time the family have been together for Christmas in decades, to the delight of her mother Christine Walsh.
Christine, her sister Sandra Cambridge, daughter Stacey Sayers and sons Gary and Mark all turned up at Cork Airport to welcome the arrivals.
Stacey’s daughters Kathryne and Lexi had hand-drawn signs to welcome their cousins.
“I am delighted to have them home,” Christine said.
“It is so long since the whole family were together, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Christine is also planning on introducing her American grandchildren to a very Irish Christmas tradition.
“She has recorded the Late Late Toy Show,” Stacey said. “We all got our Toy Show pyjamas and we are going to get together and watch it.”
Stacey said the introduction of inexpensive, direct flights from Cork to the US by Norwegian has made a huge difference to their family.
“Before it would have cost thousands, but we were able to get tickets for the four in my family for €750. It was less than half price for Charlene to come home, compared to what it would have been previously.”
Christine agreed: “It used be so expensive for Charlene to come home, even just herself and Bobby and then with the kids. I’ve been able to go over twice already with Norwegian. They are so nice on the plane, it is fabulous.”
The price was so good that 14 members of Bobby’s extended family and some friends made the trip home with them.
Bobby’s aunt, Kathy Fay explained: “We were all at a wedding. Charlene was there and she said, ‘do you want to go?’ So we signed up then and there. Then cousins started ringing around and more people kept getting added. To be here in Charlene’s home is wonderful.”
While Charlene and her family stay for two weeks, the rest of the group fly home on Sunday. But they are already making plans to return.
Kathy’s sister Patti said: “With that flight, you will get us back here again. I’ll do Cork to Rhode Island anytime.”
Robert’s christening is being held on Saturday in Farranree church with a reception afterwards at the Army Barracks, which is also an important place for the Walsh family.
Robert is named in honour of his late grandfather, who was a sergeant there before he passed away 21 years ago.