A devastated Meath pet owner who had given up hope of ever seeing his missing parrot again has been reunited with the plucky bird against the odds.
Ray Fitzsimons spent up to 20 hours each day searching for his beloved Lulu - an African grey parrot who flew out of his home in Kells on June 26.
The loss was heartbreaking for Ray, who has had 15-year-old Lulu since she was a baby, and futile searches resulted in him losing hope of finding her by last Sunday - six days after she went missing.
"It was so hot on the Tuesday that the double doors of the house were opened to give her more air. She's not really caged in the house and her wings were clipped years ago, so it was the first time she has flown," Ray said.
"She's fantastic and chats away a lot. My boss was really good to let me take a few days off to search for her.
"I got up every morning at 4.30am to see if I could hear her whistling.
"Family members started telling me that searching for Lulu was beginning to take over my life so by the Sunday, I started to let go. I gave up hope and stopped searching about midday. I was gutted."
However, a phone call that evening led to the remarkable reunion of Lulu and Ray not far from his own home.
"I was in a friend's house in Navan when I got a call from Navan gardai," he said.
"A woman in an estate, not far from where I live in Kells, heard noises in a tree, looked up and saw Lulu, who dropped to the ground beside her.
"She was terrified Lulu would fly away before I arrived.
"I rushed back home and found Lulu lapping up a bowl of water. I walked over to her and she simply jumped on my shoulder, put her face down to mine and said, 'Hello'.
"It was the most amazing moment ever. I was so delighted to get her back. She's fine now but there'll be no double doors opened again," he added, laughing.