There were smiles and tears of joy at Northern Ireland’s two main airports on Friday as separated families were reunited just in time for the Christmas festivities.
Others were coming together for the first time, including the Kootstras family from Holland who had flown into Belfast City Airport for a first meeting with Laureanne Kootstras’s boyfriend – Christopher MacBlain from Banbridge.
Christopher, who runs the Language Farm teaching English to non-native speakers, said he was delighted that Laureanne’s family wanted to spend the holiday in the province.
Laureanne said her father doesn’t enjoy flying so had made a big effort to come to Belfast.
“Everyone is so excited at getting to meet Christopher’s family for the first time,” she said.
Rowena Tarplee, originally from the Crossgar area but now living in Cornwall, was also waiting patiently in the arrivals hall with two very excited young daughters, Willow, 7, and Poppy, 3, looking forward to greeting their father off his flight from Exeter.
Three of the Tarplee family had travelled over last week to spend time in Co Down before dad Andrew could join them.
“I am originally from Derryboy but I moved to Cornwall. We will have been here for ten days by the time we all go back on December 28. We do this every Christmas.”
Sanjay Kumar had flown all the way from Rwanda via Amsterdam to be reunited with his family in Newtownards and said it was great to be back for a two-week stay.
Looking particularly eye-catching was Michael Russell from the Newtownards area who works for the Nat West Bank in Manchester.
“I saw the suit in Selfridges for £60 and thought ‘why not?’ I’m going to wear it out in Belfast tomorrow night so I’ll make sure I get good use out of it,” he said.
The McCombe family from Bready, Co Tyrone were out in force to greet 21-year-old Gareth who had flown in from Exeter for a two-week stay.