When Tanya Palamar’s mother back in Ukraine asks how her granddaughter’s English is progressing, Tanya jokes that ‘Irish people would learn Ukrainian sooner than my daughter will learn English’.
That’s because Tanya, her husband and their three children are among 900 or so Ukrainians who now outnumber the locals in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, where the population was around 800 in February.
The famous spa town with the equally famous anthem by Christy Moore, together with Ballyvaughan up the road, both doubled in population virtually overnight in March when vacant hotels there were chosen to house those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
This prompted an exemplary response from the community, but also presented some significant challenges for both locals and new arrivals.
The Palamars come from the southern city of Zaporizhzhya, where Tanya runs a beauty salon and husband Oleg a furniture factory.
‘Even last night we had four rockets fall in our city,’ Tanya told the Irish Mail on Sunday. ‘About three weeks ago one rocket fell right across the street and the windows were broken in my beauty salon.’
They want to go home as soon as they can but are trying to make the best life they can in Ireland as the war rages on.
Oleg is working as a waiter and Tanya works with local community group Lisdoonvarna Fáilte, which support´s refugees and asylum seekers. The Palamars want to find their own place and jobs to match their qualifications, but are struggling with