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26/09/2021

US travel restrictions preventing Inishowen woman returning home

Ballyliffin woman in danger of missing sister's wedding

Aideen and Clare Gilmore

Ballyliffin woman Aideen Gilmore with her sister, Clare, who is getting married later this month

An Inishowen woman living in Washington DC for the past five years is in danger of missing her sister’s forthcoming wedding due to US travel restrictions regarding Ireland.

Aideen Gilmore’s sister, Clare, is marrying her fiancé, Michael, on August 14.

Aideen hails from Ballyliffin. Her mum and dad are Margaret and Oliver Gilmore. Clare is her only sister and she has three brothers, Mark, Karl and Kevin.

Speaking to Donegal Live, Aideen said she had not been home since Christmas 2019.

She said: “Under US travel restrictions introduced at the start of Covid-19, only US citizens, green card holders and certain types of visa holders could enter the US from Europe. The restrictions mean, If I come home, I may not be allowed to re-enter the States.

“Covid has been bad in the US in general but I live in Washington DC where it was not as bad, thankfully.

“After the initial lockdown things reopened with restrictions and have pretty much stayed open since.

“We were wearing masks from early on and that seemed to make a difference. We were also lucky that our good weather means we can do so much outside.

“A few months ago everything fully reopened so it’s starting to feel a bit more like normal now. Apart from being stuck here.”
Aideen said the Irish Embassy had been very helpful in highlighting her case.

She explained: “However, there is nothing they can do really. The US Government is just not budging.

“There has been no change in the travel restrictions and there is unlikely to be any change for at least another couple of months, until we see how the delta variant plays out.

“It has been tough not being able to go home. We are lucky it is the age of technology and I can see my family on video calls but I really miss them now.

“I’ve lived away from Ballyliffin my entire adult life but I always got back regularly. So this is the longest I’ve ever been away from them and it’s just very frustrating when things are starting to get back to normal and we’re all vaccinated. 

“So much so, I have decided to come for the wedding anyway as I just cannot miss it. I’ll have to figure something out from there. I cannot wait to walk on Pollan Beach again and breathe in that fresh air.”

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