Ashbourne ‘opened its heart’ to the people of Ukraine

Dozens of people attended a vigil in Ashbourne last Friday to mark two years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Friends of Ukraine, Ashbourne organised the event to remember those that are displaced and away from family and friends.

The evening of reflection took place outside Ashbourne Library with those attending bringing candles and teddies to donate to a Ukrainian orphanage.

A violinist form the RTE Concert Orchestra played a moving piece of music as the crowd reflected on the last two devastating years.

The Ukrainian National Anthem was also sung following a minute’s silence.

Fine Gael Cllr Alan Tobin said Ashbourne “opened its heart” to the Ukrainian people, not just on Friday but since they first arrived in the town almost two years ago.

“It was a really lovely solemn, respectful event,” said Tobin. “Lots of people turned out in solidarity with the Ukrainian people despite the weather not being the best,” he added.

“It started with the Ukrainian National Anthem and a minute’s silence. Then there was a video shown about Ukraine and the affects of the war on the country and its people.

“The end of the video was very interesting because it was all about how they are integrating into Ashbourne and how they are so grateful for how they are being treated in the community.”

A display showcasing the rich culture of Ukraine also stood proud, a very poignant part of the event as Tobin explains;

“The other thing that blew me away on the night was the display that we are hoping to get into the Toradh Gallery in Ashbourne. The Ukrainian people feel like their culture is trying to be erased in this war and so they took mannequins from St Vincent De Paul and they placed clothing that they got from Ukraine at the beginning of the war on the mannequins.

“Really sentimental items and instruments and then they made story boards about the whole history of Ukraine, how long it has existed and various things throughout its history and that was absolutely fantastic.

“We also had Siúbhán Ní Ghríofa from the RTE Concert Orchestra, she was playing the violin while people were bringing up teddies and lighting candles. A lady called Lisa also made a very emotional speech, she did it in English and Ukrainian. It was a very moving, poignant event.”