Christmas travel for tens of thousands of emigrants returning to Ireland will likely be disrupted as arctic weather continues to dominate.

Weather forecasters say bitterly cold conditions will continue with freezing roads and possible airport closures.

Thousands have already been stranded in European airports because of the continuing cold spell, one of the worst on record in December.

Heavy snow falls have caused airport closures and extensive flight disruption across Europe and in Britain.

Weather forecasters predict this will be the coldest December since records began in Ireland.

Met Eireann are warning that “The bitterly cold conditions will persist for the week” and that Monday night will be “extremely cold with lowest temperatures between -5 and -10, (14 degrees Fahrenheit) possibly even lower over snow fields.”

Ferry companies are reporting a huge surge in demand as emigrants try to find a way to get back home for Christmas and are fearful of airport closures.

The weather is expected to relent around Christmas Day and be milder in the  days after Christmas.