Flying In for Twenty Thousand Welcomes at Dublin Airport

Posted On August, 21 - 2018 Flying In for Twenty Thousand Welcomes at Dublin Airport Image
Photo credit: Gayl Kennedy

There is always a buzz in the Arrivals Hall at Dublin Airport – the squeals of delight as families are reunited, the cheers as a victorious team arrives, handshakes, hugs and beaming faces. Ireland is famous for its Céad Míle Fáilte (100,000 Welcomes), but for the World Meeting of Families 2018 around 20,000 visitors are expected to pass through the airport. I went out to visit the welcoming team on Monday to see this first-hand.  The team leader, Peter, told me that 9,000 pilgrims had arrived so far and that he had walked 12.6km between the two terminals and the buses on Sunday alone, seeing the arrivals safely despatched to hubs in Maynooth, Foxrock, Whitehall, among others where they would be introduced to their hosts.

Wearing their bright green polo shirts, Mary, Alan and Sheila held up signs to catch the attention of those arriving for the WMOF2018.  Mary had started her shift at 6am, Sile at 8am and Alan at 9am. They had been there the previous day also and told me that there was a great buzz around, especially when people got through baggage collection and immigration which in some cases had taken up to 90 minutes. The waiting volunteers were so glad that the people had finally gotten through that the Céad Míle Fáilte came spontaneously!

The co-ordinator was asking for a “body” to hold up a sign for a flight which had just landed so I got stuck in to experience it for myself.  It took about half an hour for the couple from Latvia to come through and be whisked away to the waiting transport. I next held the sign for the Luxembourg delegation. As I stood there a couple from Navan arrived with their own bus to collect 32 visitors from Fatima. I was impressed by the Kelly’s homemade sign of welcome in Portuguese! The Luxembourg delegation got chatting to a Kenyan delegation, also waiting.

We snapped a wonderful photo of the whole group, below.

Photo Credit: Gayl Kennedy

Rain was falling softly as we walked over to the bus to take them to the Leixlip Parish Centre, a shame after our unusually dry summer; hopefully it will not be wet all week. We shook hands and bade farewell, although we may meet again at the RDS in the coming days. 

Back at the hub of the operation, the WMOF2018 Welcome Desk, Peter and Eimear were keeping track of all the comings and goings, directing volunteers to meet flights in either Terminal 1 or 2 and updating the computer and printouts accordingly. The first impression of Ireland for our visitors will be a warm, bright one thanks to this team of volunteers with their Fáilte for all the visitors.

 

Gayl Kennedy
Volunteer Blogger

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