By Elizabeth Lee
THERE were emotional scenes in Carlow town last Friday morning, when up to 80 people gathered in Potato Market to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian and Irish people stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity at the meeting while calling for an end to the war.
People were visibly upset as emotions spilled over, with many of the refugees remembering those back home and those who have died in the war.
“It was extremely emotional for us. People were crying and calling out ‘stand with Ukraine,’” said mother-of-three Yuliia Bereziul, who fled to Ireland shortly after the invasion began.
“The purpose of the meeting was to support Ukraine, to remind people that we are fighting not only for our freedom but also for democratic values and future of Europe, and to commemorate the war victims.”
Yuliia said a few words at the gathering, as did Kathleen Nic Diarmada, a soprano who organised a concert the following night. The Ukrainian national anthem and other songs were sung before those assembled marched out to SETU, singing and shouting their thanks and calling for support. At the university, a football match took place between local people and a team of Ukrainian players.
For Yuliia and the rest of the refugees, it’s about taking it all one day at a time and staying as positive as possible.
“People are trying to be positive, but it’s hard to start your life again from scratch. We’re safe here and that’s what’s important. We are extremely grateful to the people of Ireland for everything that you’ve done for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”