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They're off - country sets its sights on getting home to loved ones

 

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Hundreds of people departed from or arrived at Heuston Station yesterday to celebrate Christmas at home

Hundreds of people departed from or arrived at Heuston Station yesterday to celebrate Christmas at home

Hundreds of people departed from or arrived at Heuston Station yesterday to celebrate Christmas at home

People across the country started to make their way home for Christmas yesterday as restrictions on inter-county travel were lifted.

Heuston Station saw many visitors setting off from or arriving in Dublin.

Dave McLoughlin, with his wife and child, arrived from Tipperary to visit family in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

Dave said the effects of the pandemic haven't been as bad in his more rural community.

"Living in rural Ireland, our lives haven't changed drastically," he said. "I imagine this year will be much the same as last year. I have a brother in Offaly - I might just chance it and visit."

That's not necessarily the case for those living in the capital city.

"I couldn't imagine living in Dublin or something like that," he said. "If you're living in a hotel room with five other people, those are the people my heart goes out to. For us country bumpkins we're not doing that bad for ourselves."

Joyce Cathal was waving off her friend who was heading home to Tipperary. Joyce will be enjoying a low-key Christmas due to the pandemic.

"You just want to have normality again, you miss doing the things that you want to do," she said. "But on Christmas, people visiting hospitals - that's more important than all of that."

For some, though, this will be the first time they have been able to visit loved ones in quite a while.

Angela Keane was going to Galway to see her sister.

Relatives

"I haven't been able to travel since last March because of the lockdown, so I'm really looking forward to catching up with my relatives," she said. "I'm going to Ballinasloe today, back on Sunday.

"I do Christmas at home alone and I suit myself. I ring my sisters in Australia after the vigil mass, and then I go to bed very late and do exactly what I want to do for the next few days."

Some people aren't making the journey alone, as their furry friends are joining them.

Fabrizio Somenzare is travelling to Westport with his mother and brother, but they were having trouble taking their two big dogs with them.

"They say we can't take the dogs because they're too big," he said. "We're trying to find someone who can take us.

"It's quite difficult to travel in the country with the restrictions we have now," he said. "We wanted to take our dogs with us."

And then there's all the students making their way home.

Áine Scott, who has been on placement, said she was excited to see her family in Tipperary.

"Because I was in placement in hospital, I couldn't travel home at the weekends like I normally do. So I was up here for six or seven weeks," she said. "We always spend Christmas with my family in Galway, so we'll be going up to see them.

"I'm worried we won't be able to go to Galway to see the family, or even family in other counties who we haven't seen in nearly a year.

"For the past few weeks, I always thought the worst thing I could do was come home for Christmas and bring Covid-19 home."


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