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We Act is collaborating with the Irish Red Cross to share the stories of Ukrainian refugees and how they're getting involved in their new communities across Ireland

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After fleeing the war in Ukraine, Iryna and her daughter arrived in Gort, Co. Galway. She now works at the local cancer support centre and wants to give back to the community that made her family feel so welcome.

Iryna's Story


Iryna is from Berdyans'k in Ukraine. She now works at Gort Cancer Support Centre a community-based support service for South Galway and North Clare...

"I'm happy that I can be useful here in Ireland. People here are amazing, and it’s really important to me, when we’ve received so much help and support, that we give something back.

When my daughter and I arrived in Gort, we had just two backpacks and the clothes we were wearing. That’s it. And the local people welcomed us so warmly. Cosy rooms, food, clothing. The first thing we heard was, “This is your home.”

I have a PhD in Philological Science. I was a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature, and I was also an English teacher. So I started helping other Ukrainians, I went to schools, and other organisations, and translated for them. Then I was asked to come to Gort Cancer Support to help a lady from Mariupol who had no English. I said of course, it was the least I could do to help.

After coming to the Gort Cancer Support Centre a few times, I told them I wanted to be useful, that I was looking for a job. I started working here on a Tús Scheme on 4th of September as an Administrative Officer.

When you don’t have work, you have a lot of time to think about family back home, or to read the news. But when you work, it distracts you a little bit. I might work on the computer, I meet and greet, I help prepare the studios for activities. It’s a lovely place. People get a huge amount of support when they come here.

This place is like an oasis in the desert for cancer patients and their families, we have everything they need to feel better in themselves, counselling, reflexology, art therapy, gardening workshops, it’s really amazing.

I want to show the Irish people how grateful I am for all the help we got. When you arrive into a foreign country, you don't know what to expect, but I was just captured by the warmth of people in Gort. I’m so happy to be here.

We don’t know how long we will be here, we can’t plan for the future, so we have to live in the here and now. And I know the best thing I can do while I’m here is to try to help and to give back."

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Are you Ukrainian living in Ireland? 

Do you work or volunteer in your community?

Do you know someone whose story we should share?

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Olga is a Ukrainian fashion designer who has been living in Clare since July 2022. She works with Clare Local Development Company and volunteers with Mná ag Gaire, a women’s community hub in Ennis, where she upcycles clothes for their zero-waste shop, Chic Nua.  

Olga's Story


“When I first arrived in Ireland, I thought I’d really love to live in Limerick. I had read about Limerick lace and I wanted to see how it was done. But then by chance, all my activities and opportunities came from Ennis.  

I heard about Mná ag Gaire through the Ukrainian community, that they needed volunteers. As I was volunteering, the ladies here asked me who I am and what I do. I told them that I'm actually a fashion designer. They had a project called Chic Nua, all about sustainable fashion, recycling fabrics and clothes. They were preparing for a show, so we made some costumes for the actors. The dress for Cinderella, was made from 300 square pieces of recycled denim. We did a small fashion show with dresses that were available to buy. Some of the ladies wore my upcycled designs to the Killarney races last summer! I’ve also made Irish dancing costumes for a local group.


After the show, I got more involved with the work of Mná ag Gaire, making clothes. I also work as a community interpreter with the Clare Local Development Company. I interpret at events around the county like recruitment fairs or training sessions. I also work on projects to integrate Ukrainians in Ireland, last Easter I ran workshop sessions to share Ukrainian egg-painting traditions with Irish people.  

They suggested that I go on some courses to help me to create my own business. And they’ve given me a mentor. She’s teaching me about setting up your business in Ireland. In the future, I plan to make my own designs and I'm just finishing up a course in college that will allow me to be a tutor and share my knowledge.  

At Mná ag Gaire, they gave me this studio, my own space to work. Sometimes I’m sketching designs, or right now I’m focused on recycling some jackets, I’m adding pearls to give this one a second life. I created a skirt with a removable trim that makes it work as both a casual skirt or for a special occasion.  

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The women here in Mná ag Gaire, give a lot of opportunities to women around Ennis especially the Ukrainian women. We have exercise classes with a Ukrainian instructor, we have a lot of art workshops - when you do art, your brain is able to relax. On Fridays, we have an English speaking club, sometimes we cook here too.  

It means a lot to have this place. When the war started, and people started to arrive, we needed a place where we could gather and meet each other. Mná ag Gaire gave us the space and the opportunity. This is a place to communicate with people who share your own interests. The people are really warm and open here. 

I decided to be a volunteer in Ireland because I want to share my knowledge. I want to teach people simple things about sewing, and if they are interested, I’ll share everything I know. 

It was a big decision to come to Ireland, but you know sometimes, we can take a decision and it changes our life. Things are working out good for me here. It’s beautiful – I love that it’s green all year around – it's like happiness for your eyes!” 



The Good Bike



Ukrainians Helping
Ukrainians Galway

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Ukrainian Action

Coming Soon...

Ukrainian Stories is a collaboration between:

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In the Media

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