‘The hardest decision of our lives’: Ukrainian family of 10 flee Odessa for Kilkenny

‘The hardest decision of our lives’: Ukrainian family of 10 flee Odessa for Kilkenny

Sarah Slater

It was the hardest decision of a Ukrainian family’s lives to leave a father and brother behind in Odessa, knowing they are living and fighting without any water and food for days.

10 members of the Dulchue family aged from two to 70 left the port city of Odessa last Friday, which is 447 kilometres south of the capital Kyiv, arriving into Dublin airport last Sunday night with only the clothes on their backs and a small amount of personal belongings.

19-year-old Svevlana, along with her mother, grandmother, aunts and young cousins, left everything “that is dear” knowing that she may not see her father Sergey and brother Artem again.


The finance and banking student said: “The most precious things that we took with us from there are our children. We wanted to save them so our country hopefully one day will have a future.

“It was the hardest decision in our lives to leave everything that is so dear to us, our families and go to the unknown, so far from home to another country, with a different language, mentality and laws with hardly any money with us, as the situation in Odessa was changing drastically every second.

“I really hope that I can return home with my family. In Ukraine, my home, father and hometown.”


The family are now staying at the Springhill Hotel on the edge of Kilkenny city, after a family friend living in Kilkenny but originally from the Ukraine approached his boss Jim Doyle, who runs the telecommunications company Entegro, desperate to help them.


Mr Doyle helped with getting the family on flights into Dublin from Romania after Svevlana, along with her grandmother Lyudmila (70), mother Marina, her younger brother Artem, her aunt Victoria and other relations Anastasia (13), Anna (26), Nikita (12) and two-year-old Illya travelled for three days through Moldova and then onto Romania.

Along with several others, he is looking after accommodation costs at the hotel in the short term until more permanent accommodation is sourced.

Kilkenny County Council, along with several other humanitarian organisations, charities and business people, is trying to source more suitable housing and day-to-day living needs.

The journey here was horrendous


Svevlana said that she was very frightened and stressed travelling through Ukraine and onto Moldova and Romania, due to her grandmother being diabetic and ill.

“It was frightening and stressful knowing that my grandmother is not well, being forced to leave her country at her stage in life and the younger children of my family not fully understanding why they are being torn away from other relatives and friends. The journey here was horrendous,” she said.

“I really hope that I can return home with my family to my father, brother and hometown. We have been in constant contact with my father, who was an entrepreneur until the war started and my brother but communication is becoming more difficult each day.

“We are all so worried about them as they are now living in a bunker fighting, and have hardly any food and water. All they do is worry about us but they are the ones whose lives are at risk. Our whole world as we knew it has been torn apart.”

She said that living with the knowledge that she may not see her relatives and friends, and that she and her family cannot return to their homes, is “very painful but I believe in the best”.

It comes as around 2,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Ireland in recent weeks.