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“My life is gradually getting better – I feel safe again”

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I never thought about emigrating to another country.

In Kyiv, Ukraine, I had everything I needed: my own PR company, which I have been building for 12 years, interesting and important projects, a beautiful apartment in which I recently finished renovations, my family, my children, my favourite places - cafes, botanical gardens, Opera house. I just bought two new dresses for spring and ordered a frame for a new piece of art. I had tickets to the theatre and plane tickets to Stockholm, where my son and I were to fly on vacation.

My life was bright and full of meaning but then on February 24 at 5am it changed unequivocally. The sounds of explosions and sirens became commonplace. Yes, as if you lived all your life to the sound of an air alarm. I lost sleep. I lived in constant stress and fear for my family and friends.

Three weeks after the start of the war, I found myself in a distant country - Ireland.

All my previous life fitted in one small green suitcase. And here we are with children in winter clothes in +14 degrees Celsius in Killarney.

Thus began a new period of my life. Now my temporary home is here in Killarney and the locals have become my family in these weeks.

The first thing that catches your eye here today is the incredible number of shades of green. When you go out into the National Park, your eyes are simply dazzled by the shining green, in the shadows I see rich green, and in the distance - green-brown mountains rise. Incredible beauty.

Here in Killarney, the air is so clean and the nature is so beautiful that if I were an artist, I would paint my best work here and sell it at auction.

When we arrived at Dublin Airport, when we were distributed in different regions, all the people said that we were very lucky to get to Killarney. Now I understand why.

People!

The people in Killarney are wonderful. All locals accepted us, Ukrainian refugees as relatives. The first days at the Innisfallen Hotel many locals came to us and brought us basic things such as children's toys and clothes. It was very appropriate, because we all came in winter clothes, in which we left our houses when the war began.

Local photographer Marie Carroll O'Sullivan took care of us. Mother's Day became special for us. Marie and her friends prepared a surprise for us and brought flowers, sweets and gifts. Local scouts came to us with flowers, and neighbours from Fossa - with cakes. For two weeks, many people came to us to ask how we were doing and how they could help and offer a job.

Such sincere care from strangers has become a very effective factor in the adaptation of children and adults. All Ukrainians who have lived in constant anxiety and fear since the beginning of the war were finally able to breathe calmly. We felt really safe around good people. The local Killarney community needs to know that they have given us more than just the things we need, they have given us a sense of family.

School

I was amazed at how easy it is to get into the principal's office. We arrived in Killarney on Wednesday, and on Friday I was standing on the doorstep of St Brendan’s College. Mr Sean Coffey listened to me and immediately agreed to take our boys to school. On Monday, my son and his new friends continued their education in Killarney.

The staff at the school are very hospitable and despite many new things in the organisation of education, our children go to school every morning with interest and joy.

Later, all our children joined education in different schools in Fossa and Killarney.

Our education system differs from the Irish one in that Ukrainian children study for 11 years and all our schools are mixed - for boys and girls. The school curriculum is tougher, there are many subjects, few sports and no practices at all. Our lessons last 45 minutes and you do not need to wear a uniform.
So far, most of our children enjoy a two-week Easter break and a short day on Wednesday. They are especially affected by the fact that it is possible for everyone to study for another extra year.

Work

Despite the fact that not all Ukrainians who came to Kerry know English, everyone who wanted has already got a job. It is good that we are in a tourist region with many job vacancies. Our women are already working in various hotels and cafes, and men - on the construction site. After all, I now have an interesting job. I remember my journalistic past and write texts again.

In three weeks I already have many acquaintances here with whom you can talk and ask for advice. It is most pleasant for me when I walk around the town, and one of my acquaintances shouts "Hello, Natalia". This town is gradually becoming my home.

My life is gradually getting better, I feel safe again. And I dream of only one thing - that the war in Ukraine is over so that I can return home.

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Seven An Post staff retire

Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week. The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were […]

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Seven well-known staff members at An Post Killarney celebrated retirement this week.

The staff, Mary O’Sullivan, Joe Clifford, Paudie Cronin, Joe Coffey, Tom Ashe, Jerry McCarthy and Dan Murphy were treated to an night of celebration and reminiscing by the South Kerry branch of the Communication Workers Union of Ireland.

The retirees, their families and colleagues enjoyed an evening at ‘The Panoramic’ the newly named restaurant upstairs at Killarney Racecourse.

Ollie Favier, of the Shire fame has taken over responsibility for operating the coffee shop / restaurant at the racecourse.

“A beautiful venue and apt that Ollie’s father Dan RIP from Glenflesk, was also a long serving postman in the community,” said John O’Shea, the Union Secretary An Post Killarney.

“The night included music with Derry Healy and Rosie Healy and was attended by up to 80 people, under the attentive guidance of Sales and Marketing Manager Emma O’Connor and Ollie’s right hand man, Colin Daly

“The event the food and the atmosphere was a great success and credit to all Ollie’s staff for being great hosts. “

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Watch Video: Primary School Students share knowledge from Coffee Cup Project

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Killarney primary schools have joined the crusade against single use coffee cups this week by joining the Killarney Coffee Cup Project and declaring themselves single use coffee cup free. The Killarney Coffee Project is a community grassroots project aimed at eliminating single use coffee cups from Killarney town centre to protect Killarney National Park and the towns surroundings all in the name of conservation.

Alan Oliver, a local coffee shop owner, Lir Café, who is one of the participants of the project has said that he is “thrilled to see the project extend into the local schools. Teaching young people about why we should be moving away from a throw away culture is imperative to the continuous success of projects like this. Today’s young people are the future custodians of this town and so educating them on the importance of sustainability will ensure that Killarney and its National Park will be in safe hands for future generations.”

The schools involved in declaring themselves single use coffee cup free include Holycross Mercy, Gaelscoil Faithleann, Presentation Monastery, Glenflesk, Knocknanes, Coolick, Loreto, Lissivigeen and Tiernaboul. This follows on from the Killarney Coffee Cup Primary Schools Initiative which took place last November supported by Killarney Credit Union, the Kerry Biosphere, and the IKC3 project in MTU.

In November the 5th classes in the Killarney area were brought to Muckross School House and Killarney House for a 2-hour immersive environmental education experience around our connection to the Kerry Biosphere and citizen climate action. Here the students learned about our biosphere and how we as citizens and sustainable initiatives like the Killarney Coffee Cup Project can protect this Special Area of Conservation. Finally, they went outside to work with a park ranger, collecting acorns in leftover disposable compostable cups that the project had gathered from various businesses. They took these acorns back to their classrooms where they have planted and are caring for their oak tree. In 2024, these young oak tree seedlings will be planted back into the National Park.

The Killarney Coffee Cup Project is the 1st of its kind in the world, and it is something that belongs to all the citizens of the town. We all own this!

Want to hear from the future voices of our environment?

This week the Killarney Advertiser caught up with primary schoolers who have been busy learning all about protecting our amazing natural environment

Watch our video where the future eco-warriors share what they’ve learned about keeping our Killarney healthy and thriving! Here is to the next generation of environmental stewards!

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