Cork Airport turns refuge for tired travellers

CORK airport has become an unlikely refuge for desperate travellers attempting to enter the country as passengers attempting to come to Ireland are faced with Dublin and Belfast cancellation nightmares.

In scenes a world apart from those in the Republic’s and Northern Ireland’s capital airports, whoops and yelps of excitement echoed around the Cork hub yesterday as tired emigrants returned for Christmas.

In Dublin, would-be passengers woke this morning to news that the facility — which was shut down entirely until 8am — is likely to face further chaos.

The capital’s airport has asked passengers to leave or not turn up for potential flights due to worrying overcrowding levels caused by six inches of fresh snow yesterday afternoon — which a spokesperson said was the equivalent of 90,000 tonnes of snow across the facility.

However, in Ireland’s second city passengers have been arriving safely, and making their feelings of relief heard.

One of the loudest welcomes was for 28-year-old Nessa Lynch, from Donoughmore, and her 32-year-old husband Stephen Wallace, from Monkstown, who were returning from New Zealand.

Following three days of travelling which saw them dart across the map from Hong Kong to Amsterdam, the couple finally secured standby seats on a flight into Munster.

Based in Wellington for the past five years, Nessa and Stephen have not been home since they were married in June 2009.

Nessa’s mother, Maureen Lynch, said the recent weather drama made their long-overdue return all the more memorable.

“They love it out there, they have a great life together, but we are delighted to have them home for Christmas,” she said.

Elsewhere in the airport the weather delays proved too much for 30-year-old Katherine Walsh, from Ballygarvan in Cork, who burst into tears when greeting her brother Ricky, who emigrated to Melbourne two years ago.

“He looks so different, so grown up,” she said to her brother who is due to give her away at her wedding on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, for three-year-old Emily O’Shea Christmas can’t come soon enough.

Her father, Peter O Shea, from Grenagh outside Mallow, has been working in Abu Dhabi for the past 18 months.

He missed Christmas at home last year with his partner Mary Allen and Emily’s 13-year-old sister Ciara.

“He didn’t make it home last Christmas which was hard but it makes this year all the more special. The girls can’t wait and neither can I,” she said.

The luck of being able to land in Cork was not lost on Togher-born Kevin McCarthy, who returned from the US for his parents’ delayed 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

“There were 700 flights cancelled across mid-west America, but all I had to deal with was a one-hour delay at Chicago,” he explained.

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