17 May 2022

An estimated 20 Ukrainian women and children fleeing war have found refuge in Fethard convent

An estimated 20 women and children fleeing war in Ukraine have found refuge in former Fethard convent in past week

Maryna Gavrylenko, photographed with some of the Ukrainian children in the converted playroom at Fethard’s Presentation Convent. Picture Joe Kenny

An estimated 20 women and children fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine have found refuge in Fethard’s Presentation Convent building over the past week with more than 55 refugees set to arrive there over the coming weeks.
The first arrivals to the newly modified convent building last Wednesday, March 30, were a party of four women and two children, who are relatives of Oleg and Maryna Gavrylenko, a couple who have been working and living locally for several years.
The group, which included nine-year-old Alina and four-year-old Damir, travelled from Kyiv and south Ukraine to Poland and then by air to Ireland. The community of Fethard is to welcome more than 55 people fleeing the war in Ukraine to the town’s Presentation Convent building. Responding to the urgent need for accommodation, the convent building has undergone a fast-tracked modification project to make it fit for purpose for the families taking up residency this month.
The accommodation has been inspected and approved by the Irish Red Cross and will be run by the Fethard & District Day Care Centre Committee, which will continue to use part of the building for their daily community activities.
The revamped building was formally opened last Wednesday after welcoming its first guests.
The refurbishment project was helped by an incredible response from the community, with local businesses and contractors rallying together to provide labour and materials at no cost, along with members of the local community who personally donated items.
Nearby Coolmore Stud, which employs a number of Ukrainian nationals, has also provided financial support for the project and helped with project management.
Welcoming the families, Joe Kenny, Chairperson of Fethard & Killusty Community Council said: “This has been a real community effort and we are proud to be able to offer support and solidarity for people fleeing the terrible tragedy in Ukraine.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the backing received from the Presentation Sisters and the Irish Red Cross.
“We have also benefited from the support of Senator Garret Ahearn, and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for fast-tracking the application.
“We are extremely grateful and look forward to providing a warm welcome to our Ukrainian guests.”
Maurice Maloney of Coolmore Stud said: “We have a number of Ukrainian staff, many of whom have family and friends back home that they are worrying about. They are in our thoughts and prayers, as are all those who are being impacted by the recent tragic events.
“The incredible work of the community in Fethard has helped pull together a place of safety for people who have had to flee war back home.
“Along with the local volunteers giving their time, and local businesses their expertise and materials, we are pleased to have been able to play a small role in making this happen.” Senator Garret Ahearn, who supported the project at Government level, said: “The hard work of the people of Fethard is evident here today as the community welcomes people from Ukraine who have fled unthinkable circumstances.
“The swift reaction from the community to make the convent fit for purpose in such a short timeframe is a testament to the community spirit and humanitarian instincts of everyone involved.”

Pictured below: Fethard's Presentation Convent, which has been revamped to accommodate refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine

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