It must be Christmas time: Hugs and tears as families reunite at Irish airports

Amid the usual hustle-and-bustle of the airport, these few days each year have a magical feeling about them.

It must be Christmas time: Hugs and tears as families reunite at Irish airports

With just five more sleeps until Christmas morning, Ireland's airports are getting busy welcoming people home and sending others off to reunite with family and friends around the world.

Excitement is building at Dublin, Shannon, Cork, Kerry and Belfast airports.

Amid the usual hustle-and-bustle of the airport, these few days each year have a magical feeling about them.

People have been gathering with signs and gifts and plenty of hugs at the ready as they eagerly await their loved ones' appearance through the arrivals gates.

Some are reuniting after years apart, some have just been away for a few months and others are meeting little ones for the very first time but no matter the time or the distance travelled the screams of joy and tight embraces are the same.

Elsewhere, passengers are preparing to board planes to fly them across land and sea to be with those they love for Christmas.

There are last minute gifts - and no doubt plenty of bags of Tayto - being bought and packed into suitcases as anticipation builds ahead of takeoff.

Over a million people will be travelling in and out of Ireland over the festive period with Dublin Airport alone expecting 1.2 million passengers to pass through.

The next few days will see countless smiles, hugs and tears of joy.

As always, the wonderful teams at our airports have been working hard to make sure that all the passengers have a wonderful welcome home or a magical send-off.

Choirs such as the Forget-Me-Nots Choir, the children from Scoil Naomh Losaf in Glanmire, Co Cork and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra have been lending their time and angelic voices to help create a merry atmosphere.

Yesterday, one passenger at Dublin Airport received a dino-mite welcome home.

The Cassidy family welcomed Shane home from Australia dressed as dinosaurs. You know, how dinosaurs were right there with the three wise men on the first Christmas, right? Very traditional Christmas costume.

Two other families received a surprise in Dublin this week.

The Duffy and Farrell families were all set to welcome home Rachel and Alan for Christmas only to find out that they would not have to return to the airport to see them off again in a couple of weeks - they are home for good!

Needless to say, the tears were flowing.

Here are just a few of our favourite scenes from across the country to help you get into the Christmas spirit.

As students finish up with exams and get ready to say goodbye to their studies until the new year, lots of them will be excitedly planning their long journeys back home.

Students from the University of Limerick have spent the past few months creating a short video that captures the magic of travelling home at this time of year.

UL has over 3,000 international students from 107 countries studying with them each year and 600 of their own students spend semesters studying abroad so the annual Christmas trek is familiar to many of them.

With this in mind, third year Digital Media Design student Patrick Hayes created the video with the message 'Wherever you have been, it's always good to come home'.

While lots of families will be welcoming loved ones home, it is important to remember that this time of year is difficult for many.

Be sure to take some time over the Christmas to check in on those who may be alone or struggling during this time of year.

If you are having a difficult time over the Christmas period, please reach out to someone close to you or call one of the numbers below.

Pieta House: 1800 247 247

Samaritans Ireland: 116 123

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 77 88 88

Women's Aid: 1800 341 900

Male Advice Line: 1800 816 588

Childline: 1800 66 66 66

BeLonGTo: 01 670 6223

TENI: 01 873 3575

Inner City Helping Homeless: 085 838 9281

Threshold: 1800 454 454

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