Barry Haughian and his wife opened the doors of their incredible castle to help strangers in need.
When Barry Haughian heard of the news in Ukraine, he wanted to find a way to help the refugees. Although he lives in Madrid with his Spanish wife, Lola, he came up with a plan that would see 11 Ukrainian refugees find a home, jobs, and a new committee to thrive in.
The Irishman has a second home in County Galway, on the west coast of the Emerald Isle. However, it’s not just a cozy cottage; it’s a 15th-century abode called Ballindooley Castle –and he thought it would make the perfect refuge for the displaced Ukrainians.
So he flew to Poland and gathered together 11 refugees from Mariupol and Dnipro. “We were emotional wrecks for probably more than a week. We weren’t sure what we were doing, and just trying to make things better for them,”Haughian shared with Reuters.
“So now, every week it gets better … You can see the weight coming off their shoulders. We’ve got people dropping in all the time trying to help them. It’s a real ‘céad míle fáilte’ (“a hundred thousand welcomes”) from the people of Ireland,” he added.
Thanks to his kindness, the Ukrainian children are able to have fun playing in the grounds of the castle, and five members of the group have found work.
For Maria Nazarchuk, her move to Ireland has proved to be very rewarding. She’s got a job in a garden center, will hopefully be able to continue studying accounting at the National University of Galway, and her neighbors are dropping off supplies so she can continue her passion for baking.
“Irish people are very friendly, very kind. All the people want to help us. I (am) very happy here. I have a good job, a good home. I never thought that someday I will live in a castle,” she shared with Reuters.
Haughian is one of many Irish people who have opened their homes and hearts to Ukrainians in need. According to Good News Network, when the Irish Red Cross opened their registration service for the people to offer themselves as hosts, the website crashed due to the number of people who wanted to help.