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“There were so many kind messages welcoming us to this beautiful town”

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Mariam Diasamidze arrived in Killarney last week with many other Ukrainian families.

They are staying in the Innisfallen Hotel where their 70 plus bedrooms are now their new home.

When Mariam arrived in Killarney one of the very first things she did was a ‘thank you’ post on the popular Facebook page ‘People of Killarney’. I penned an email and we met at the Innisfallen last Friday. She let me in and bravely told me her story. Mariam was a little worried about her English but we didn’t need to use Google translate once. Face to face, through a person's eyes tells the true story and I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in Mariam’s shoes, closing the door of your home leaving all your worldly belongings with no inkling of return and what she would return to. In this day and age it’s beyond belief.

“I am from Georgia but I live with my Ukrainian husband Ruslan who is the head of a building company in Ukraine. My daughter Milana is 20 months. I remember it so clearly in my city of Odessa. On February 24 at 4am there was a huge explosion of bombs and it was then that I really feared for my life so for safety we slept in the basement until there were plans in place to leave my beautiful country Ukraine.

“I did not want to leave my house in Odessa. I had such a happy life but I was scared. Everyday our plans to leave changed but the only plan we want is to live in peace. Unfortunately this is not possible right now. When we arrived in Dublin, we were made very welcome. We travelled with friends who are now situated in Shannon. We do not know anyone here in the hotel but we are united together as Ukrainian people. We chose the plane to Ireland because I had heard of its beauty and this is true. I could have chosen to return to Georgia but I was so scared to make this decision, there is huge risk there too. My husband Ruslan was working in Moldova when we evacuated Odessa. I did not even have him with me throughout this very difficult time but I am so grateful that because he was not in Ukraine at the time the war broke out, that he was not requested to return and fight so he is here with me in your beautiful country. I honestly do not know how I would cope without him. There are many people here without their husbands or fathers so Ruslan is coming in handy for all the heavy duty requirements for everyone.”

I looked around the hotel. Yes, they have a roof over their heads and food on the table and their PPS Numbers are on the way so they can begin to work and integrate into society soon, but I wondered about the contents of their luggage, what did they take with them to start a new life in another country, temporarily perhaps, or perhaps not. 

As I left the hotel I asked Mariam if there was anything she needed. She told me a heart-warming story of the kindness of Killarney.

KIND MESSAGES

SAFE AT LAST: Mariam Diasamidze Odessa Ukraine pictured with her daughter Milana at the Innisfallen Hotel Fossa. Milana is holding flowers gifted to her for Daffodil Day from Marie. Photo: Marie Carroll-O'Sullivan

“After I posted on the page ‘People of Killarney’, there were so many kind messages welcoming us to this beautiful town. Milana was running a temperature, I knew she was ill but I didn’t have a thermometer and could not get to the chemist from Innisfallen as it was the evening. I remembered a message from a very kind lady, Noelle Crosbie, so I asked for help. Soon I had a thermometer and Neurofen. I was so grateful to her.”

With this in mind I asked if there was anything I could bring to the hotel. Not thinking of herself, Mariam asked for some toys for the children and nappies. I put a post on my social media and my house was soon flooded with toys from friends wanting to help. Ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday last, my friends and social media contacts came up trumps again and I gifted the ladies at the Innisfallen Hotel over €2,000 in vouchers for practical places like Centra, Pennys, Dunnes, Tesco, and Aldi. Local hairdressers - Flair for Hair, Ruby Tuesdays and beauticians - The Skin Lab, Your Beautiful Self, Vanity Case, Eavan Skin Care, and The Beauty Boutique were just some of the vouchers gifted. A huge shout out to Alan in Blooms who was already up the walls but sponsored flowers for the Ukrainian moms on Mother's Day. I stayed for a while and became friends through a translator in their group. 

I asked Miriam what she thinks will happen between Russia and Ukraine. “One country will eventually be defeated, but I don’t know who. In my heart, it is my opinion that every time Ukraine will win, defeated or not defeated, because Ukraine is the country hero but for now, peace is found in Killarney and we are so very grateful to you all.”

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30 years of Innisfallen Island MassThe annual special concelebrated Mass on Innisfallen Island takes place next week.

Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm. Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by […]

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Next Friday (June 21), members of the public are invited to attend the Mass taking place at 6.30pm.

Now in its 30th year, the Mass was originally an idea by Geoffrey O’Donoghue who sadly died four years after it began.

“There was an Augustinian Monastery on Innisfallen Island and the people, including priests and monks and they say Brian Boro, went out there to study. The lake, Lough Lein is called ‘The Lake of Learning’,” said his wife Mary who carries on the tradition in his memory.

“My husband Geoffrey was a descendent of the O’Donoghues and he wanted to have Mass on the island. The O’Donoghues built Ross Castle and owned the lands and the lake surrounding it which was later donated by John McShane to the people of Killarney. He [Geoffrey] asked one of the friars and one day he got a call from the OPW that there would be a plaque unveiled to John McShane and they asked if the Mass could coincide with it. It was attended by Sr Pauline, John McShane’s daughter.”

She added that all the public are welcome to attend. Boats, which will have a nominal fee to cover their costs, will be carrying passengers out from 4pm onwards.

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Photo of “hidden gem” wins Camera Club’s latest competition

A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition. Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the […]

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A photograph of one of Killarney’s hidden beauty spots was deemed the winner of Killarney Camera Club’s most recent competition.

Th standard was high throughout all categories but in the Novice category, Iryna Halaieva’s photograph of O’Sullivan’s Cascade was deemed the winner.

“A waterfall is my favourite waterbody and long exposure is my favourite photographic technique,” she said. “I do my best to have as many waterfalls as possible in my photo collection. I heard a lot about O’Sullivan’s Cascade and wanted to visit that hidden gem of Kerry. So, shortly before our club competition I went with a friend to Tomies Wood to photograph it. It was a dream come true for me.”

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