Tears and laughter filled the arrivals hall at Dublin Airport as family and friends welcomed Irish troops home after a six-month deployment to Lebanon.
Over 200 personnel from the 120th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were greeted by a cheering audience, including a whistler, who filled the arrivals hall with music.
This was the first homecoming attended by families since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Scores of children held up signs welcoming their mothers and fathers. A little girl wore a t-shirt that read, “All I want for Christmas is my dad.”
Among those waiting at the airport yesterday was a family of four, which included an infant in a stroller.
“This is my daughter Mila and we are waiting for her grandfather, my father, to come back from Lebanon. She’s three weeks old, so he hasn’t met her yet. It’s going to be his first time and he’s very excited,” said Nathan Clabby.
“He was gone for six months and was in the military for 41 years. He’ll walk again in six months if he can. He is almost of retirement age.”
The grandfather, Company Sergeant Martin Clabby, was quickly swamped by his family as he looked around for his new granddaughter.
“I feel good and happy to be home for Christmas. It’s also the first time I’ve met my granddaughter, she’s amazing, fantastic,” said Mr Clabby Irish Independent.
Also waiting in the arrivals hall was young Cillian, who had specially dressed in a military uniform as he awaited the arrival of his father, Stephen Burke.
His mother, Anne Burke, said: “I’m picking up my husband, her father, from his second trip abroad. He’s been gone for seven months. He last left six years ago. Cillian was just a baby back then,” she said.
“The kids can’t wait. Are you looking forward to it?” Ms Burke asked her children – Cillian and Grace, who cheered and waved their Irish flags.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/emotional-reunions-families-greet-irish-troops-returning-from-lebanon-at-dublin-airport-42172291.html Emotional reunion: Families greet Irish troops returning from Lebanon at Dublin Airport