CARLOW and Ukrainian performers came together for a special fundraising night of music and song at a packed St Mary’s Church in Carlow recently. It was an emotional night as musicians from diverse backgrounds delivered a tour de force performance, including traditional Irish and Ukrainian music, pop, classical and choir.
“More than anything, for the performers it was a chance to express themselves,” said Carlow opera singer Kathleen Nic Dhiarmada, who organised the event with Ukrainian Yuliia Bereziuk. “They are obviously going through a very hard time, but it was a moment of feeling solidarity with the audience.”
Yuliia, who currently lives in Cobden Hall at Carlow College, said the excitement of the Ukrainian performers were evident.
“I cannot explain how happy they were,” she said. “It was back to normality for them, to perform for Ukrainian and Irish people. It was amazing.”
The concert took place a day after the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is a very difficult time for Ukrainians, who reflected on how different their lives were 12 months ago.
“This concert just helped us stay all together and get through it,” said Yuliia. “I was really happy. We got a lot of feedback from Ukrainian people. They were very touched by everything. Ukrainians performing with Irish musicians, Ukrainians singing their national songs and they got to find out a bit more about Irish culture as well.”
A highlight on the night was the audience adding their voices to a rendition of the rousing Ukrainian pop anthem Chervona Ruta by Steve Soul, who currently lives at Tougher’s.
Funds are still coming in, but it’s believed that around €5,000 has been raise for St Clare’s Food Kitchen and for those in need in Ukraine.
Performers on the night included Carlow Voices, Sofia Koreiba, Kathleen Nic Dhiarmada, Yaroslav Lutsenko, Franek Dobronski, No Strings Attached, Ksenyia Rusnak Fleur and Cliona Kavanagh, Anastatiia Budilova, Kateryna Domashovets, Olena Kumpan, Ksenia Walsh, Steve Soul, Mariia Kubar, Oleksandr Minaieve, Lucia Partlin and Maria Ryan.
The night ended with a performance of traditional Irish music on a bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument by Munster musicians Lucia Partlin and Maria Ryan.
MCs for the concert were Yuliia along with local man John McDarby.
A theme on the night was the appreciation that Ukrainians had for Irish people. At the concert, Yuliia spoke on behalf of Ukrainians about how Irish people had welcomed them into “your country, your houses and your lives” and hoped to welcome them in the years ahead to a beautiful and peaceful Ukraine.
“All the Ukrainians really appreciate everything the Irish government and Irish people do for them,” said Yuliia. “Every Ukrainian has their own story about something that has been done for them. It might be something small, but they are touched by it.”
Speaking of bringing the show together, Kathleen said: “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into! Meeting all new people and making a lot of new friends, the big thing I have learned is how grateful every single Ukrainian I met was to Ireland. They are so thankful for finding somewhere safe.”
Kathleen was motivated to organise an event due to conditions at Tougher’s on the Castledermot Road. More than 30 Ukrainians staying at Tougher’s attended the event, with a special bus being organised.
While the event was a great success, Kathleen spoke about the sadness of seeing Ukrainians return there and noted that accommodation issues remain across Ireland for both Ukrainians and Irish people. “It just got me thinking: it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, but people deserve some place decent to live,” she said.
Kathleen thanked everyone who supported the event, especially Rev Ger James for providing the venue free of charge, Laura Kenny for designing advertising material, and cllrs Adrienne Wallace, Fintan Phelan, Andrea Dalton and Fergal Browne, who supported the event. Yuliia also gave a special thank you to Kathleen for instigating the event.
People can still donate here on GoFundMe.com.