Iraqi-born Leitrim hurler fears for relatives after earthquake

Zak Moradi says disaster could not have happened at worse time as temperatures dropped

Zak Moradi was the first Iranian Kurd to play in Croke Park - for Leitrim last summer

Leitrim hurler Zak Moradi does not know how many relatives he has lost in the earthquake which has killed at least 530 people and injured thousands in Iran, but he knows there have been fatalities and he is expecting to hear of more.

“I’d love if the Irish government could help to keep the spotlight on this,” said the Iraqi -born 26-year-old whose family are Iranian Kurds who were displaced in the 1980s.

“I know we have lost one of my uncles and some cousins,” he said on Tuesday. “My brother-in-law has lost his sister and her two kids but we don’t know what we are going to hear next”.

"In other countries when there is a major disaster like in Haiti, there is always an international response and I hope that happens here".


Moradi , moved to Carrick on Shannon with his family when he was just 11 and while Dublin has been his home for many years he still plays county hurling for Leitrim.

He and relatives have been frantically trying to establish the whereabouts of the extended family since they heard the news. “The phones are down. I talked to one of my cousins - he was hospital. I know my granny is still alive but she is in hospital . One of my cousins dragged her out of the house in time. The problem is we can do nothing to help from here”.

By a coincidence his brother Mokhtar was on the phone to an uncle in Iran when the earthquake struck . “ They just happened to be chatting on Viber and suddenly there was a lot of screaming and the phone went dead,” he said.

After a series of frantic phone calls and a trawl on Facebook, relatives in Ireland learned of the earthquake and since then have been trying to establish the fate of their loved ones.

He explained that while his parents and siblings left Iran during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s many of the extended family, who are Iranian Kurds, are still living in the border area where they earthquake struck.

“They actually had to leave their homes and live outside for months last year because there were warnings about earthquakes but nothing happened. This one came out of the blue - no warning,” he said.

He says the catastrophe could not have happened at a worse time as temperatures have dropped and those who survived are either living in the open or in tents. “I know they are lighting fires to try and keep warm. We know some of our relatives are in hospital but the nearest hospitals are full .

He says the Kurdish people have had more than their share of suffering. “It seems that if its not war , it’s rains or an earthquake. “My family are all farmers.a lot of Kuridish people live on the mountains . they have a traditional lifestyle - they have sheep and cows and grow a lot of their food.

Zak was born in Ramadi in 1991. He had no English when the family moved to Carrick on Shannon but the GAA soon became a passion and while his club loyalties lie with the Thomas Davis GAA club in Dublin he was the first Iranian Kurd to play in Croke park - for Leitrim last summer.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland