From the war-stricken streets of Mariupol to the rustic walls of an Irish castle built in the 15th-century, this group of eleven Ukrainian refugees have a rather safe place to stay.
Good samaritan Barry Haughian (pronounced HOY-en) had no space in his current home in Madrid where he lives with his Spanish wife Lola. So he immediately opened up their second home when bombs started falling.
This second home just happens to be Ballindooley Castle, located in County Galway. Barry flew to Poland to pick up eleven refugees, some from Dnipro and others from Mariupol.
When speaking with Reuters, Barry said, “We were emotional wrecks for probably more than a week. We weren’t sure what we were doing, and just trying to make things better for them,”
“So now, every week it gets better… You can see the weight coming off their shoulders. We’ve got people dropping in all the time trying to help them. It’s a real ‘céad míle fáilte’ (a hundred thousand welcomes) from the people of Ireland.”
The kids play around the castle grounds and thanks to Barry, the group has been able to celebrate a birthday together as they start to adjust to their new surroundings.
One month on they have adjusted to their new routines, five have found jobs, Maria Nazarchuk works at a garden centre close to the castle and hopes to continue her accounting degree at the National University of Galway in September.
Ireland is rightfully proud of its contribution to the EU refugee policy as to when the national registration opened for hosting Ukrainians via the Irish Red Cross website it crashed due to the number of applicants.
Neighbours are also invested, stopping by routinely to help lighten the mood with anything they can offer including baking ingredients and equipment so Nazarchuk can continue her passion for baking while she isn’t studying.