Ukrainian Community Centre official launch

Group of Ukrainian people in national costume at the launch

Minister for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD, and the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, joined more than 100 people from the local community recently to celebrate the first year and official launch of our Ukrainian Community Centre for Bray and North Wicklow. 

Highlights of the event included lively singing performances from children and adults dressed in bright traditional Ukrainian costume and delicious Ukrainian borscht, savouries and cakes served to guests.

The centre is located in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hall in the Quinsborough Road and local members of the Ukrainian community were on hand to greet guests at the door with a traditional Ukrainian Korovai bread and salt welcoming ceremony.  

Inside the hall, Ukrainian children proudly showed off their artwork in an exhibition called From Home to Home. Each child had created a drawing in the shape of their own region of Ukraine depicting their personal experience of their first year in Ireland and their journey from a home in Ukraine to finding a new home in Ireland. Minister Joe O’Brien and the children then stuck the last piece of the artwork onto a jigsaw map of Ukraine to complete this impressive art installation.

Minister Joe O'Brien and Ukrainian Ambassador being welcomed to launch with Ukrainian bread ceremonyTraditional Ukrainian borscht soup, savouries and cakes were served to all and groups of Ukrainian children and adults in traditional costume sang Ukrainian songs in the garden to entertain the guests.

Speaking at the event, Bray Area Partnership’s chairperson Aoife Flynn Kennedy said that the word “community” really summed up what the centre was all about. She described how it had provided a warm and welcoming space over the past year for local Ukrainian people to meet, get support and information and take part in a wide range of activities. 
A local Ukrainian woman, Alina Vylka, then spoke about what the centre meant to her: “The war that ravaged my homeland, Ukraine, left me without a home, a job, and the comforts of my familiar life. Having lost everything dear to me, I found solace here, in beautiful Ireland. I would like to particularly acknowledge the Ukrainian Centre, which has become a hub of unity and support for me. Your boundless love for Ukraine and the multitude of programmes for children and adults have inspired me and helped restore my faith in the future.” 

Ukrainian children singing in traditional costumeThe Ukrainian Ambassador thanked Ireland, the minister and most especially the local community for all of the support that had been given to Ukrainian people.

Before cutting the ribbon to officially launch the centre, Minister Joe O’Brien said: “When you embarked on this endeavour a year ago, your vision was clear: to create a space that would serve as a vibrant hub for your Ukrainian community, a place where cultural heritage could be preserved, and new connections forged. Today, as we look around this thriving Community Centre, you can proudly say that this mission has been accomplished.

The Ukrainian Community Centre for Bray and North Wicklow is funded by the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), which is co-funded by the Irish Government, through the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the European Social Fund Plus under the Employment, Inclusion, Skills and Training (EIST) Programme 2021-2027.