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Waiting for Aer Lingus to take them home again

By Eileen Murphy

For Irish Echo Classified Manager Tracey Quilligan, a quick trip home to Cavan last week was a long-awaited treat: in addition to seeing her family, she'd have the chance to spend time with her best friend, who was visiting from Australia. She flew to Ireland from JFK Airport last Wednesday night; on Thursday, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano erupted, creating a giant ash cloud and disrupting air travel across Europe.

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Granted, there are worse things than being forced to extend your vacation - especially when you're visiting family, with no worries about hotel accommodations. But as much as Quilligan has relished a few extra days in her hometown of Shercock, she's eager to get back home to her husband, Kieran, and her job in New York.

In a phone call Tuesday morning, she recounted the details - so far -- of her extraordinary adventure.

"The volcano erupted the day I arrived on Thursday," she said. "During my holiday here, I've spent most of the time listening to news, checking the Aer Lingus website for details, and calling Aer Lingus."

As would be expected, the airline's phone lines have been jammed with calls from worried customers looking for a flight home.

"It took me three hours on Monday to get through to Aer Lingus -- it was a disaster!" Quilligan recalled. "When I did finally reach someone, she was helpful, but couldn't give me a definite answer about if and when flights will resume."

As of 6 p.m. Monday evening, all Irish airports were scheduled to open on Tuesday morning. But apparently, the Icelandic volcano didn't get the memo.

"When I turned on the radio at 7:30 this morning, RTÉ announced that all flights have been cancelled again -- I believe the volcano erupted again Monday night," said Quilligan.

"As of now, I am booked on a flight back to New York for Thursday morning, and am hoping very much to be flying," she said. "My husband, work and life is in New York. As much as I love being in Ireland, I do not like this situation very much. It has ruined my holdiay in a sense, because I don't know what is going to happen and have to check every day."