IT was the perfect follow-up to the story that captured the imagination of the public.
And it was all down to one little balloon released in Dunmanway last Christmas by the town’s Chamber of Commerce, that found its way 2,500km to Norway.
So after weeks of planning by Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce, Linda Taule – who found the balloon with her son Magnus – touched down in Cork Airport with her family to be met by a welcoming party that took her completely by surprise.
Decked in Norwegian flags and carrying colourful banners, the small crowd welcomed the Taule-Leikanger family with open arms.
‘I’m overwhelmed really, as I was just expecting to meet Catherine, Helen and maybe a few more, but this was really good and so much more than we were expecting, especially with the Norwegian flags and the balloons hanging over the arrivals gate,’ Linda told The Southern Star, minutes after they passed through the Arrival gates.
‘The children are really excited and this was very unexpected for them. When we landed my youngest started singing ‘I’m in Ireland.’ We’re going to have a great holiday. We were here in Ireland 12 years ago and it was brilliant that Norwegian Air paid for our flights to London. My family even said why didn’t I say we have an extended family, so they could all come over!’
Linda’s story has also made an impact back home in Norway, too.
‘We’ve been featured in some newspapers at home in Norway too as it’s a wonderful story. Even before I left someone from Sweden rang me who was covering travel stories and wanted to find out more about us finding the balloon and getting to come to Ireland,’ added Linda.
Since Friday the Taule-Leikanger family have been taking in the sights of Dunmanway and West Cork and everyone in the town has welcomed them.
‘They’re a great family and are delighted with their trip here they went to the Ballabuidhe Races on Tuesday and the loved it. They also love meeting the locals and seeing what Dunmanway is really like,’ said Catherine Crowley from Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce.
And even with the poor weather it’s not stopping them from enjoying their West Cork holiday.
‘They couldn’t give a hoot about the weather as they’re used to it, so even though it was raining on Monday they still headed out to Skibbereen, had lunch in the West Cork Hotel and they also went to the Treehouse, so the children could play indoors.’
As Linda and her family have a sponsored rental car, they are able to explore other parts of West Cork and on Tuesday they went to visit the Toy Soldier Factory in Kilnamartyra and the iconic lake and woods at nearby Gougane Barra.