Chamber president John Geoghegan with some of the refugees from Ukraine before the left Mullingar for The Blizzards gig in Dublin on Saturday night.

Ukrainian refugees have a night to remember at Blizzards gig

A group of Ukrainian refugees who Mullingar Chamber of Commerce brought to The Blizzards gig in The Academy last Saturday night won't forget their first Irish concert in a hurry.

The 15 refugees, who are based in the Mullingar area, were invited to the gig by the chamber, who provided a minibus to transport them to Dublin, while the band provided the tickets.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, president John Geoghegan said that the bus for the gig was sponsored by a member of the chamber, who also sponsored a couple of rounds of drinks for the group.

“Basically we did a call out to a group supporting the Ukrainian refugees in Mullingar and a representative said that they would be delighted to come.

“It was a brilliant night. We met in the Greville at ten to six and the bus dropped us off at the gig at 7.10pm. Bressie, Declan Murphy and the lads arranged to get 15 tickets for them and the gig was awesome.

“The Blizzards are brilliant live and The Academy is a brilliant venue. Bressie also did a call out from the stage to the Ukrainians just to recognise their presence, which was pretty cool. They also got signed albums.

“After the gig we took the bus to Mullingar and went to the Crossed Keys where Ronan Walsh had set aside a section for them, then Ukraine went on to win the Eurovision and they all sang the national anthem. It was beautiful, given the night that was in it.”

John said that the chamber was delighted to be able to offer the refugees a bit of Irish hospitality. He also revealed that the chamber hopes to organise a coffee morning in the coming weeks where the people of Mullingar can meet and chat with the newest members of the community.

John says that the group, some of who are from the town of Bucha where 1,000 bodies were recovered after the Russian army were forced to withdraw in March, had a great night. He also thanked Vaida Nugent, a Lithuanian native who is helping co-ordinate local support for the refugees.

Many of those who attended the concert have husbands and other relatives who are still in Ukraine and it was great to be able to help take their minds of the events taking place in their home country, he said.