EIGHT days after he was originally supposed to return home from a short Easter break in Spain, Fr Tony Corr is relieved to be back home in Banbridge.

Wednesday, 28th April 2010, 11:48 am

The local priest was one of thousands of stranded holidaymakers caught up in the travel chaos after much of European airspace was closed for a week earlier this month.

Fr Corr had travelled to Alicante for a four-day break with his Lurgan colleague Fr Stephen Crossan, two weeks ago but turned up at the airport for his return flight only to be told no planes were flying for the foreseeable future.

A seven-hour stay at the airport in Spain followed before Fr Corr, who has served in Seapatrick Parish for 10 years, and the other passengers were told they wouldn't be leaving the country by plane anytime soon.

"We were all very confused - no-one seemed to know what was happening so we just had to go with it," Fr Corr told the Leader.

"We ended up being put up in the nearby Holiday Inn for the next eight days the earliest flight we could get was confirmed for the following Thursday.

"If that flight hadn't happened we would almost certainly have tried to get back home overland - probably from Spain to France and then a ferry from Calais and on home from there."

Fr Corr said he was more than a little nervous when his flight finally got into the air last Thursday.

"We had been receiving mixed messages about how safe it was to fly," he said. "And the flight home was very turbulent so I suppose that added to the nerves a bit."

Although admitting there are worse places to be stranded than sunny Spain, Fr Corr said he regretted missing out on some important events while away.

"Unfortunately I missed a wedding and another priest had to step in," he said. "There were other appointments and duties I obviously couldn't undertake while away but thankfully I got back on Thursday to celebrate the funeral mass on Friday of someone I was very fond of.

"To be honest we weren't the worst off and there was a great fellowship among all the people staying in the hotel - we were all in the same situation after all."