Emigrating grandparents Janet and Eugene Bennis have taken a massive step in realizing their dream move – after buying each other one-way tickets to Australia for Christmas.
The 50-something couple, who have captured the imagination of the Irish public, recently sold their Limerick home so that next year they can afford to move to Brisbane, where their four grown-up children and four young grandchildren are all based.
[Janet] Bennis, 53, who will leave her much-loved job as a catering supervisor at the University of Limerick on Friday, admitted the past few months have been an emotional rollercoaster as the reality of spending the festive season in Ireland for the final time hits home.
But she said that the alternative of living thousands of miles away from her beloved family is too much to bear.
She said: "I've been really emotional lately, because I've had such a good life in Ireland and have so many happy memories.
"But we're not going to change our minds, because our lives are so empty without the kids and grandchildren. In the future, Christmas time is going to be so special being over in Australia with all the family.
"There's definitely no turning back now, because we've had the removal people here who have moved all our stuff into storage and we're expecting to sign over the house just before Christmas.
"And Eugene and I agreed that our presents to each other would be our tickets to Australia. And that really is the most special gift I'll ever receive, because what it means is it's our passes to the rest of our lives with our family."
The couple's children – Jennifer, 30, who's a mother-of-two, father-of-two Eoin, 28, Claire, 26, and Cian, 24 – are already planning a huge welcome party for their parents – after their planned move in February next year.
And although the couple won't have much spare cash once they've cleared their mortgage following the sale of the home they've lived in for 28 years, they have to pay any rent once they move to Oz as they'll be moving in with two of their children and their families.
Bennis added: "Christmas more than any other time of the year is about family and for the last few years I've just felt like Eugene and I have been existing, instead of living.
"I know we're doing the right thing and really now can't wait for the move to Australia. We've nothing to lose and everything to gain."