ON a windy Friday afternoon high above the busy town of Skibbereen, in the peaceful confines of St Patrick’s cemetery we gathered for a prayer service.
The mourners, in numbers that reached well over 50, lined up to place flowers and candles at the foot of the grave of a man that none of us knew.
We stood back respectfully alongside members of An Garda Siochana and Cllr Michael Collins as Parish Priest Father John Reinhold and members of the Ukrainian community and kind locals entered the cemetery and made their sombre way to the graveside of Mr Yevhen Mishchenko.
Father John Reinhold led us in prayer as he told us that Mr Mishchenko was now sitting at the Lord’s table with all of his brothers.
We prayed for his countrymen and women and all those around the world in need.
Some mourners were visibly upset as their own losses were brought home to them.
He was prayed for as we would pray for one of our own.
65 year old Mr Mishchenko was from Mariupol in Ukraine. He left his homeland not long after Putin’s forces invaded his country. Initially he was in Dublin before moving to West Cork just three months ago where he made Skibbereen his home. He was residing in a block of flats in the town and by all accounts kept himself to himself.
The Ukrainian community say he was a quiet and pleasant man who never wished to divulge personal information.
When he died on January 2 of natural causes, all attempts to contact his family were fruitless.
His home address was found but none of his family were still there, presumably they had also fled for safer terrain.
The coroner for West Cork, Mr Frank O’ Connell made the sad decision to inter the gentleman’s remains in Skibbereen’s St Patricks’ cemetery until such time, when the war is over, when he can be mourned by his family and friends.
Mr Mishchenko was buried with just the Parish Priest, undertakers, and the gravediggers in attendance, but when word got out about this lonely affair, the decision was made to have a proper prayer service in the deceased’s honour.
It is unknown what the gentleman’s religion was but it mattered not to the assembled mourners.
He received a dignified send off.
His grave sits across the road from the famine graveyard. He will be remembered by all passers-by until such time as he can be reunited with his loved ones.