Sky high Shannon adventure for 2000 lucky children

All set for take off are L-R Eabha Fanning (5) from Shannon Co Clare, Jennifer Moloney, Gouldavoher Limerick, Tracy Moloney, Gouldavoher Limerick and Aj Fanning (7) Shannon Co Clare on the apron during the Shannon Airport Santa Flights 2019. Pic Arthur Ellis.

CHRISTMAS took off in a welter of excitement at Shannon Airport last weekend when 2,000 lucky children and their parents prepared to meet a special visitor 15,000 feet above sea-level as the annual Santa Flights took to the skies.

Families from all over Ireland boarded the most magical flight of the year, many making it an overnight treat to the region as they travelled from as far afield as Fermanagh, Mayo, Sligo, Dublin and Kerry.

The annual fixture has become the early festive staple of the west and for the 2,000 whose names were pulled out of the hat – a lottery is used due to the huge oversubscription for the seats available – the wait was worth it.

Children were greeted by Santa’s helpers on arrival and other well-known cartoon characters. There was festive fun to while away the anxious hour before the children got to board Santa’s aircraft and then the mayhem took flight.

“It’s brilliant fun and the noise is deafening,” said airport Managing Director Andrew Murphy. “The children are already well buzzed by all the fun and games and when Santa arrives onboard high up in the skies, the reaction is fantastic.

“We’ve been doing this now for seven years and it’s our way of saying thank you to the public for their support. Shannon is a special place at Christmas as so may return home for the festive season but it really begins for us this weekend.

“Our staff put a huge effort in and they’ll be exhausted by the time today finishes after two days of it but it’s well worth it. It’s one of our favourite weekends of the year and this is highlighted by the fact that the event helps to raise money for our Shannon Group charities for 2019, Limerick Suicide Watch and Irish Cancer Society.”