A Donegal couple who had been given a present of a two week luxurious holiday in Egypt were evacuated from their resort last week as fears grew for the safety of Irish citizens there.
Patricia and Vincent Callaghan had been holidaying in the Sharm El Sheikh resort and had booked their holiday last July. However, just days into their trip, they were caught up in the ongoing protests against the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak.
Patricia (pictured) told the Donegal Democrat/People’s Press, “To be quite honest we only learned that there was a problem about two days before we flew out. We had seen bits and pieces on the television but it seemed confined to Cairo and we were not overly concerned.
“We actually checked with our travel agents and were told that everything was as normal and that the flights were going ahead as normal. If we had decided to cancel we would have lost all our entitlements.”
The Callaghans are very familiar with the resort having visited it three times before and described it as a “paradise”
“The people are just so friendly - they would do anything to make your holiday enjoyable. It is much more westernised than other parts of the region, said Patricia, “The only thing we saw was a small clip on BBC News 24 otherwise everything was as normal. The staff weren’t even talking about the protests.
“On reflection many of the locals may have been Mubarak supporters as he is credited with establishing the resort after the war with Israel and he is reputed to have spent a lot of time there. In fact there was a strong rumour that he was in the resort during our time there.”
Even as the problems escalated, the Callaghans saw no evidence of a curfew with the exception of one day last week when they were advised to stay within the hotel grounds as a safety precaution.
“Then early last Thursday morning we were informed that all Irish citizens were being repatriated for their own safety as the situation had been escalating,” Patricia explained.
“If I am to be perfectly honest we would have been quite happy to remain but we were told that if we did we “were on our own”
“I cannot really blame the Department of Foreign Affairs - they were only acting in the interests of the safety of Irish citizens. It was only when we got home that we realised just how much the whole thing had grown.
“Even though we only managed a week we had a really great week and look forward to going back - it is one of our favourite destinations and I truly hope that they can sort the situation out.” concluded Patricia.