Douglas GAA shows a true taste of Irish hospitality to Ukrainian refugees

“From Douglas GAA’s point of view, we just wanted to do something nice for our Ukrainian guests before they are moved on again,” John O’Driscoll, the club’s children’s officer told The Echo.
Douglas GAA shows a true taste of Irish hospitality to Ukrainian refugees

Douglas Hurling & Football Club host sports day for Ukrainian children, at Douglas Hurling & Football Club, Douglas, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

A Cork GAA club has hosted a Cúl Camp course for some 40 Ukrainian children staying in the area, giving the visitors a taste of Irish hospitality.

“From Douglas GAA’s point of view, we just wanted to do something nice for our Ukrainian guests before they are moved on again,” John O’Driscoll, the club’s children’s officer told The Echo.

Mr O’Driscoll said one of the club’s members had suggested they should have a special event for Ukrainian people who had been residing in the area.

“Gabriel Doherty, a historian in UCC, was liaising with a group of Ukrainians that were staying in the student village accommodation since they arrived from Ukraine months ago,” Mr O’Driscoll said.

“They’re being asked to leave by the 20th of August because students are going back, and Gabriel was conscious that there hadn’t really been a whole pile done for them since they came here.”

Mr Doherty had asked Mr O’Driscoll and Douglas GAA Club’s senior committee if they could do something for the Ukrainian children.

Lyubov, Arsenii, Yevheniia and Olha Parkhomenko. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Lyubov, Arsenii, Yevheniia and Olha Parkhomenko. Picture: Jim Coughlan

“We decided to run a Cúl Camp for the children, and have a day for the adults, so Martin Twomey Coach and Bus Hire gave us a double-decker bus for free for the day, and Ollie Tobin, a great club member who drives for Martin Twomey, he provided his services free of charge,” Mr O’Driscoll said.

“M&P O’Sullivan Cash and Carry gave us a great amount of goody bags for the kids. Gavin Webb is our promotions manager, and he ran the Cúl Camp from midday to 1pm.

 Anna Murphy and Diana Stepanova. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Anna Murphy and Diana Stepanova. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“We had about 40 kids and 40 adults, so we had a lunch of pizzas and chips for the kids, and we did sandwiches and scones and coffees for their parents all morning,” Mr O’Driscoll said.

 Sisters, Lida and Zoya Stepanova. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Sisters, Lida and Zoya Stepanova. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Douglas Comhaltas played a session in the clubhouse, and one appreciative young Ukrainian listener told his mother it was is like the music from the Titanic.

Zlata and Zarina Ursak.	Picture: Jim Coughlan
Zlata and Zarina Ursak. Picture: Jim Coughlan

AIB supplied two tickets for Westlife, and club members put some cash in an envelope and had a raffle amongst the parents, with the lucky winners enjoying a nice night out compliments of AIB and Douglas GAA Club.

 Matvii and Ludmila Holavshchemko. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Matvii and Ludmila Holavshchemko. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Mr O’Driscoll said “the saddest thing” about the afternoon had been the knowledge that their new friends would be moving on so quickly.

 Olha Parkhomenko and Zlata Ursak. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Olha Parkhomenko and Zlata Ursak. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“It’s just a pity, because from talking to them, they all had made friends since they arrived in the village, and now they have no idea where they’re going, and it’s just heart-breaking that they’ll be moved again, so for us it was just a matter of doing something for them before that happened,” he said.

“We brought an ice cream truck along after the Cúl Camp, so they all left with 99s.

“It was a great day out, and just our way of getting them out of the house for the day and showing that there is hospitality still from the Irish people,” he said.

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