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'Calling my mother was the hardest part' - Irish man unable to return home for Christmas

An Irish man unable to return home from England for Christmas says making the phone call to his m...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.49 22 Dec 2020


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'Calling my mother was the har...

'Calling my mother was the hardest part' - Irish man unable to return home for Christmas

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.49 22 Dec 2020


Share this article


An Irish man unable to return home from England for Christmas says making the phone call to his mother was the hardest part.

It comes as a travel ban from the UK has been extended until the end of the year, as part of new COVID-19 restrictions to take effect from Christmas Eve.

Pádraig Prendergast is a journalist at the BBC and lives in London, with plans to fly home to Kerry last Saturday.

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But he told The Hard Shoulder his conscience stopped him.

"Ryanair changed my flight to the Sunday - obviously the UK announcement came on Saturday afternoon at about 4 o'clock.

"And I was thinking 'Do I go home, do I not', and rang the family.

"They were saying 'You have to come, it's Christmas' - and I've never had a Christmas away from home".

Picture: Supplied

He said he woke up the next morning and packed his bags, "even though the government here had said to unpack your bags".

"I was making my way to the airport and I got to the terminal - even on the way on the train I was like 'This isn't right'.

"It's illegal, I didn't want to bring anything home, this new strand was so risky.

"My brother earlier in the year had COVID and had it really bad".

'One of the hardest phone calls'

Padraig said while other people have flouted the rules, he did not want to be one of them.

"I would have lost all the credibility from my job, I was at risk of loosing my job, but it wasn't that.

"It was going home to Ireland... where I was so worried of bringing anything home."

Pádraig Prendergast (far right) with his mother Joan (centre) and brother Micheál, who contracted the coronavirus earlier this year. Picture: Supplied

"It was one of the hardest phone calls I ever had to make: I had to ring my mom, break her heart and all my family.

"I'm one of the lucky ones - I was home in summer - but seeing mom's face when I fly home every year, everyone wants to fly home for Christmas, you see her face when she opens the door".

"Even yesterday I woke up thinking 'Did I make the right decision?' and I knew I did".

Pádraig said his mother, who works in a hospital, was "balling crying" after she heard 'The Little Drummer Boy' - which h used to play on the bodhrán.

"Obviously that just sets you off," he said.

'Shambles'

He said the last-minute nature of it is the most annoying part.

"It was just so annoying, it was the lateness of it all - the lateness of the UK government.

"We were gone from tier two last Tuesday/Wednesday into tier four on Saturday, and they've known about the new strain since November."

"But they'd known even last Wednesday and Boris [Johnson] had gone away and said 'Go and have a merry little Christmas'.

"It's a bit of a shambles actually".

But he said he understands why some people have travelled.

"I'm lucky enough, I can afford to buy a Christmas dinner here and I have a housemate to do that with - but other people might not be as fortunate".

Main image: Pádraig Prendergast is pictured outside 10 Downing Street in London. Picture: Supplied

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BBC Christmas Home For Christmas London Pádraig Prendergast The Hard Shoulder Uk Uk Travel Ban

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