Antrim man scatters parents' ashes after airline loss
Aer Lingus has apologised to a man who returned to Northern Ireland from Australia to scatter his parents' ashes after they were lost in transit.
Bob Gilmour (63) emigrated along with his parents from Ballymena, Co Antrim, to Australia in 1967 when he was 11. His father, Sam Gilmour, met his English mother during the Second World War.
The family made the decision to travel to Europe this summer after his daughter was invited to train with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Milan, Italy.
Mr Gilmour decided to extend the trip and scatter his parents' ashes in their hometowns to respect their last wishes.
"We thought since she’s been invited to do that and I had my mum and my dad's ashes sitting in boxes on the mantelpiece - this is the opportunity. All four of us will go and we will take mum and dad home, easy peasy," he said.
The family organised two ceremonies with the help of relatives, one in Ballymena and one in Birmingham, to lay his parents to rest this week.
The family of four were due to spend five days in Ireland before flying to England for his mother's funeral ceremony but when they arrived in Dublin from Milan on Saturday they found that Aer Lingus had lost all of their luggage.
"We got here, the bags didn’t, and since then it’s been just a nightmare," Mr Gilmour said.
The airline were able to locate two of the four lost bags on Monday and thankfully, a spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday evening that the remaining luggage has been found.
"Aer Lingus can confirm that the missing baggage has been located in Milan Malpensa Airport. Regrettably it was not loaded onto the Aer Lingus flight by the baggage handlers at Malpensa Airport. The baggage will now arrive overnight into Dublin Airport where it will be immediately transported to the family. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused."
The memorial service took place on Wednesday morning. Speaking to the BBC Mr Gilmour said - given the deaths in his family - he felt it his job to complete. He described as "quite emotional" the ceremony.
"It was now or never, and for a while it was looking like it was going to be never," he said.
Before their deaths, both of Mr Gilmour's parents expressed a wish to be cremated and have their remains returned to their respective home places as the pair "never quite adapted" to their new Australian home.
"They were willing migrants but neither of them ever really saw themselves as Australians," he said.
"My dad was always an Irishman, my mum was always an English girl, and at some point they both decided that when they died they would like to have their ashes brought back to their respective home countries."