It’s a golden family moment which will resonate with thousands of Irish families separated by emigration.
First-time grandparents Martin and Mary O’Regan spoke last night of their sheer delight and joy at holding their newborn grandson for the first time after his parents arrived home from Australia early to surprise them.
A video of the emotional homecoming is set to go viral after being uploaded yesterday.
Martin and Mary, from Belgooly, Co Cork, who had only ever seen photographs of 11-week-old, Brisbane-born Niall, described it as an unforgettable moment when his parents — son John and partner Claire Peters from Tipperary — walked through their door with him on Sunday.
The homecoming was not expected until next weekend.
“We were absolutely flabbergasted — speechless really,” Martin said last night.
“That moment, when you get to hold a new baby, especially your first-born grandchild for the first time, well, it’s just very, very special.”
Mary, who works at UCC’s School of Law, said they had seen dozens of photographs of Niall in recent weeks.
“But that’s from a distance. We don’t really do Skype because the broadband in this area isn’t great,” she said.
“It was a bit surreal when they walked in, especially when it was a week earlier than planned.
“We hadn’t gone through the process of anticipation of their visit and Niall was in our arms before we even had time to think.
Mary and Martin O'Regan from Belgooly in Co Cork meet their first born grandchild, Niall, for the first time after his parents arrived home for a visit from Australia by surprise, also included is baby's dad, John.
“It’s great to see them coming home but, in the joy, you know the time for them to leave will come too soon. But we will enjoy the next few weeks with them.”
John, who left Ireland for Australia a decade ago for what was supposed to be a year’s work, is involved in construction in the Brisbane area. He met Claire, an accountant from New Inn near Cahir, and romance blossomed.
Niall was born almost three months ago and the couple shared photographs through email and on Facebook with family back home.
They planned to arrive back in Ireland next week and introduce him in person.
But they brought their arrival date forward a week and with the help of John’s siblings — Daniel, Valerie, Paul, Dave, and Maureen — they planned to surprise his parents.
Dave said it’s never been easy to pull the wool over their mother’s eyes, so the operation had to be planned meticulously.
Martin and Mary arrived home from their own holidays at the weekend and were given a video to watch on Sunday, featuring photographs of Niall.
When the video cut to clips of John, Claire, and Niall at Dublin Airport, of John dipping his newborn son’s feet into a USA biscuit tin of Irish soil, and clips of them driving along the Dublin to Cork road, their suspicions were aroused. It was only when they saw clips of the new family driving along the road towards the O’Regan house that Mary knew something was up.
She rushed to pull back the curtains but before she knew it, John, Claire, and Niall walked in for an emotional homecoming.
Tears flowed as the grandparents met their grandchild for the first time.
The family visited Claire’s parents in New Inn yesterday and are due to fly back to Australia on August 13.
Mary, who hasn’t been to Australia yet, said: “Now we have a great reason to visit them.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved