Fleeing Ukrainians find refuge in medieval Irish castle

STORY: Irishman Barry Haughian and his Spanish wife Lola saw Ukrainians fleeing their homes, but had no space to help in their house in Madrid.

So, they decided to offer up their second home instead - a 15th century castle in the west of Ireland.

Within a day Haughian was on a plane to Poland, having set up a Facebook account for the first time to offer refuge.

Eleven Ukrainians - one group from Dnipro and another from Zaporozhye near Mariupol - returned with him to stay with his family at Ballindooley Castle.

"We were emotional wrecks for probably more than a week. We didn't really, myself included, we weren't sure what we were doing, and just trying to make things better for them. So now, every week it gets better. The kids are well integrated into school. Some of the kids just had a birthday party. We've got people dropping in all the time trying to help them. We've got five of them jobs already, so they're working, contributing to society here . It's a real 'céad míle fáilte' from the people of Ireland."

Maria Kozlovska is one of the refugees staying at the Haughian family’s castle.

"Barry he really helped me and my family, and my children. Because he bought tickets for the plane. And he helped to do all the papers for us to live in Ireland (visa papers). He helped with accommodation, with school for my children."

The group are among 23,000 Ukrainian refugees who have so far arrived in Ireland.

The government expects that number could quadruple - equivalent to two percent of the population - and anticipate having to house people in conference centers or sports halls.

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