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Flying home for Christmas

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WELCOME HOME  Aidan Mulvihil from Knockmore greeting his daughter Emily as she landed home to Mayo on the Ryanair Manchester to Knock flight on Monday afternoon. Pic: Conor McKeown

Ireland West Airport was a quiet but happy place on Monday afternoon

Michael Gallagher

In other years the Monday before Christmas would see the arrivals hall at Ireland West Airport in Knock heaving with excitement as family and friends embraced those streaming home for the festivities. Yesterday (Monday) was different. The famous airport on the hill was quieter than usual and the impact of Covid-19 restrictions was plain for all to see - but there was still joy to be found when the passengers of Flight FR892 from Manchester came through the doors.
John and Brenda O’Malley from Louisburgh had been waiting patiently to set eyes on their son, Kieran, and were showering praise on the facility.
“This is an amazing airport. When I was a young fella heading off to Leeds many years ago there was no such thing as an airport in this part of the world but it’s lovely to be here today welcoming people back,” John told The Mayo News.
Soon, Kieran was through the doors and all was right with the world, except for the restricted opening hours of the hostelries in Louisburgh.
“It’s lovely to be home. It was a bit foggy when we were coming in but we’re on Mayo soil now, so we’re happy. I hear they’re closing the pubs early in Louisburgh these days, so we’ll have to have a think about that.
“Christmas is always big for us as a family. It’s lovely to be together and with all the omicron around it’s nice to get here safe and sound.
"There were lots of checks the other side but I’ve had my booster and vaccinations so I was fine. There were a number of empty seats on the plane, which probably wouldn’t be normal at this time of year, but it’s understandable I suppose,” explained Kieran who is pictured with his mother Brenda on our front page.
Knockmore woman, Emily Mulvihill also noticed the empty seats on the flight. “It was much quieter than usual, but I expected as much. I came home last Christmas too, but all we had to have then was a locator form and the plane was packed. This time, our vaccine certs and tests were checked three times in Manchester before we got on the flight, which is great but different.”

Serious impact
Emily has just taken up a job with the NHS in Crewe after studying for two years in Sheffield, but says Covid has had a serious impact on both sides of the Irish Sea. “It has had a big impact on everyone. It was tough not being able to come back and over when one wanted and we all felt that but there’s a great Irish community in Manchester and we just all mucked in. My family are big into the GAA in Knockmore although that gene missed me I think, but I joined a club over there and it’s a great way of keeping in contact,” she added before turning her thoughts to the celebrations awaiting her at home.
“I love Christmas. I’m an only child, but we have loads of cousins and we have them over for Christmas Day and there’s a great crew of us when we get going. Last year wasn’t normal but hopefully this year it will be much better. I think it will,” she added with a smile.
Nearby, Martina and Jimmy Jordan from Foxford were in the midst of welcoming their daughter Sharon and grandson Shiva Arockiam back to Mayo soil. Shiva was tired after the flight and could hardly wait to get to Foxford where Santa will surely call on Christmas Eve.