A couple immediately decided to fly in from Poland with a group of eleven Ukrainian refugees and shelter them in their 15th Century castle located in County Galway, Ireland.
The Good News Network reported that the couple, Barry and Lola Haughian, prepared their second home--the Ballindooley Castle--to aid refugees as soon as Russia started invading Ukraine. The couple lives in Madrid, Spain since Lola is Spanish and the space they have there wasn't big enough for the refugees. Barry, an Irishman, thought of offering the castle instead.
Accordingly, the couple was among those who took the opportunity to host Ukrainians when the Irish Red Cross opened registrations for it. Ireland is said to have a great contribution to the European Union's refugee sharing policy. So many Irish citizens applied that the Red Cross' website crashed two months ago. The group Barry brought with him was among the 23,000 Ukrainian refugees sheltered by Ireland.
Barry shared in an interview with Reuters that there were many adjustments at the onset, being emotional and all to what was happening to Ukraine. But everyone has settled, especially the refugees who have been unburdened with so many people helping them.
"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," Haughian said.
"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," he added.
The group of refugees he picked up from Poland came from different areas in Ukraine. Some came from Dnipro and the rest from Zaporozhye, which is near Mariupol. Some of them were children, who are now able to play on the castle grounds.
Their lives have slowly returned back to normal, having celebrated one of the refugees' birthdays recently. They have adjusted to their new routines and five of them have already found jobs. Maria Nazarchuk, one of the refugees, have found a job at a nearby garden center.
Nazarchuk said she is still looking forward to finishing her accounting studies but through Galway's National University come September. She is also pursuing her passion for baking, which she is able to do thanks to the supplies their neighbors drop by to lighten their mood.
Nazarchuk, who is with her mother, revealed that all her siblings--two brothers and a sister--along with her grandmother were left in Dnipro. The 20-year-old recounted to Reuters that leaving Ukraine happened so fast that she found herself in tears.
"When we are going to go to another country, I cried because it was very fast. I plan my actions, what I do with friends, with family, with university, and one day I have no plan," Nazarchuk said.
Nonetheless, Nazarchuk expressed gratefulness to the Irish people for being very friendly and very kind. She highlighted that everyone there wanted to help them.
"I (am) very happy here. I have a good job, a good home. I never thought that someday I will live in a castle," Nazarchuk shared.