By Peter McDermott
Two speakers at last Saturday's Glucksman Ireland House seminar are among those who have been stranded in New York in recent days.
"I've no idea when I'm going back," said Brian Donovan, CEO of Eneclann, on Monday. "With a bit of luck we might get out tomorrow night."
"I have two small children and I've got a business to run," he said of his company, which is linked to Trinity College Dublin.
Donovan said he could do some work for the genealogical and historical research website, www.eneclann.ie, via the internet. "But it's not the same as being there," he said.
Donovan said that Trinity College geneticist Professor Dan Bradley, another speaker at the seminar's morning session, was in a similar situation.
"He has work requirements and a family of young children," the Eneclann CEO said.
"But neither of ours is a serious case," he added.
Donovan has been following the story on RTE. "It seems to be one of the best news sites on the issue," he said. "This could be an early sign of something bigger and if that's the case, there could be chaos."
It isn't the first time that his travel plans have been affected by a volcano. When he was a child, a family trip to his mother's native Canada was delayed because of activity at Mount St. Helens.
Despite the current difficulties, Donovan said Europeans should be thankful for volcanoes as they bring down minerals that are essential for farming.
"The real problem now is that it's not being dispersed due to weather patterns," he said.
If Donovan and Bradley are anxious to get back to their young families, other travelers have been stranded here with their children. Irish community lawyer Sean Downes said he has arranged for a family with four young children to get a loan of an apartment in the New York area.
"They were at DisneyWorld and were due to fly back to Ireland from Philadelphia last Thursday," Downes said. Now their carrier has said they can fly to Germany on next Monday.
"They're not alone," Downes said, adding that many families of various European nationalities are in the same predicament.