Grandparents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to hug their grandchildren from Monday.
The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed yesterday that the reunion of family members from different generations can take place at long last from next week.
This will be a huge relief to the cohort of people who have been told to 'stay at home' for the last year and "who shouldered the burden" of the public health restrictions, he added.
Next week will see inter-county travel allowed, barbers and hairdressers reopening and 50 people able to attend weddings and funerals.
The 'vaccine bonus' also takes effect with fully vaccinated people allowed to meet unvaccinated people from one household indoors.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh, Anne Dempsey from Third Age, an organisation that offers support to older people in Ireland, said it's very uplifting news for those who have been cut off from family for so long.
"We have journeyed with people for the last 15 months now, right through from the huge shock at the beginning to people getting very worried, very anxious, very insecure and very alone," she said.
"Things are opening up again and people are going to be able to have contact.
"The whole grandchildren thing is absolutely huge, even though our callers would be people on their own and sometimes they don't have families, an awful lot of our callers do have grandchildren and it's been huge, that sense of touch, we've been denied it for so long.
"So many of our callers have really mourned that and missed that and an awful lot of our callers are at an age where that becomes the most important things in their lives, they're parents, they're grandparents, and close family relationships are vital.
"That hasn't been happening and we are going to be entering into happier times, there's no doubt about it.
Amid this "happiness and joy", there is also " a huge range of issues" which are still a cause of concern as society reopens, Ms Dempsey added.
"One of the things we have noticed is how quickly people can become institutionalised and home is a safe place and out of home isn't safe," she explained.
"Even though a lot of people are very relieved and very delighted [restrictions are lifting], there's an awful lot of people who are really very worried and also not believing that this is OK now and wondering how it could be OK."
A lot of callers to the organisation have received their COVID-19 vaccine and have a greater sense of security, Ms Dempsey said, but those under aged 60 still have to be careful.
"Some people have said to us, we don't have all the time in the world now, a year is so precious to us at our stage so we've had a huge range of emotions on the phone lines.
With more flexibility allowed regarding people meeting from next week, she is advising them to adopt a common-sense approach in adherence with the public health guidelines.