'It restores your confidence in the human race': Cork goes above and beyond for the people of Ukraine

The Mayor for the County of Cork, Cllr Gillian Coughlan, said that she takes her hat off to the people of Cork, who have been organising countless collections and are offering to open up their homes to those in need
'It restores your confidence in the human race': Cork goes above and beyond for the people of Ukraine

The idea for the West Cork Ukraine Appeal first came from the staff of Cracked Café in Bandon.

CORK residents have gone “above and beyond” for the people of Ukraine, organising countless collections and offering to open up their homes for those in need.

“It really does restore your confidence in the human race,” said Noel Desmond of Cracked Cafe in Bandon. With the help of Twomey Precision Engineering Ltd, cafe staff and over 30 local volunteers set up the West Cork Ukraine Appeal, organising two truckloads of supplies to be sent to the Ukrainian-Polish border this week.

“One of our staff members has a friend who is a Polish courier and said he could bring stuff over. 

"We posted online last Saturday that we would start a collection centre and the next day, you couldn’t even get in the door. People have gone above and beyond.” 

One Ukrainian family even drove to Bandon from Co Tipperary to drop off supplies, which added to a pile now large enough to fill another three trailers.

Volunteers from the West Cork Ukraine Appeal have sent multiple trucks and trailers filled with essential items to the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Volunteers from the West Cork Ukraine Appeal have sent multiple trucks and trailers filled with essential items to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

“The trucks are on route and a van and trailer have just reached Warsaw,” Mr Desmond said. “Everyone in Cork has just come together, we’re small but mighty.” 

The effort was supported by local councillors and representatives, including the Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan.

“I really am astounded by the great leadership that is coming from civil society on this,” said Cllr Coughlan.

”In a very short amount of time, they have achieved an enormous amount. The generosity that has been shown has been incredible. 

"I take my hat off to those who have coordinated and those who have donated."

'The response has been incredible'

Similar sentiments are being shared all over the county, with collections of supplies taking place in towns and villages from Cobh to Bantry.

Malwina Olach and Karolina Spencer said that the generosity of the people of Beara had left them “speechless” after they created a mini-depot of supplies to send to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

“The response from the community has been absolutely incredible and it exceeded all expectations,” Ms Spencer told The Echo.

“Within a few hours, we managed to sort out clothes, medical items, food, baby essentials, toiletries, hygiene products, first aid kits and send four fully packed vans to Cork.

“We were all crying our eyes out. People are so generous.” 

Bantry Blues GAA collected two busloads of essential goods and over €1,600 last week for those affected by the war.

“I cannot put into words how moved and grateful I am to every single person who donated to this important yet heartbreaking cause,” said organiser Alex Keane.

“I had a team of great people working alongside me who gave their time and effort for all this to happen.” 

Volunteers worked tirelessly as part of the West Cork Ukraine Appeal.
Volunteers worked tirelessly as part of the West Cork Ukraine Appeal.

Ballincollig GAA and Ballincollig AFC held similar drives this week, with the latter taking to Facebook to thank those who donated. 

“The community spirit in Ballincollig is, as always, amazing,” organisers wrote.

Clonakilty’s Arís Café raised over €4,000 in tips for the Red Cross and Unicef. “We appreciate the Clonakilty community spirit and generosity so much,” said cafe manager Jo.

Elsewhere in the town, Scally’s Supervalu is accepting donations for the Red Cross at its tills. Further afield, Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce is also organising a coffee morning today.

St Mary's Secondary School in Charleville sent off over 30 palettes of supplies to the Polish-Ukrainian border.
St Mary's Secondary School in Charleville sent off over 30 palettes of supplies to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

In Charleville, students of St Mary’s Secondary School sent off over 30 pallets of emergency supplies. All of the proceeds from a performance at the local Schoolyard Theatre in the town, held last weekend, are also being donated to the people of Ukraine.

In Douglas, three busloads of items were filled with donations at Bus Éireann’s Fill-a-Bus collection drive on Saturday.

“We in Bus Éireann would like to thank the people of Cork for their generosity in donating over 10,000 items to the people fleeing the war in Ukraine,’’ said Aled Williams, Bus Éireann Senior Operations Manager, South.

Three Bus Éireann buses were filled with baby items, medical and sanitary goods donated by the people of Cork at Douglas Court Shopping Centre last Saturday. 
Three Bus Éireann buses were filled with baby items, medical and sanitary goods donated by the people of Cork at Douglas Court Shopping Centre last Saturday. 

‘We received donations from people young and old, across Cork city and county. We always have a fantastic response to our Fill-a-Bus campaigns for Cork Penny Dinners and it is wonderful to see that same commitment and compassion extending all the way across Europe.’’ 

Cork Humanitarian Aid Ireland has also collected over 12 tonnes of supplies and €12,000 for Ukrainian refugees.

'It's a small thing to do'

Meanwhile, a number of people around Cork have offered to open up their homes to people fleeing Ukraine. 

Cllr Coughlan said that she has received calls from numerous people with offers of accommodation. “It is a great tribute to the people of County Cork,” Ms Coughlan said.

In Crosshaven, residents have taken to Facebook to brainstorm ideas of how to support refugees. Local Cork County Councillor Michael Paul Murtagh has been helping to coordinate the effort and is contactable for anyone looking to offer a spare room.

Residents, such as Thomas McCarthy of Ballinadee, have also offered to open up their homes in areas around Kinsale.

“We feel a bit helpless watching everything unfold and it feels so close to home,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We have the space and if this is how we can help then it’s only a small thing to do for someone in need.”

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