Clonliffe College former seminary offered for Ukrainian refugees

Archbishop says 30-40 religious congregations are offering rooms including former retreat centres

Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese has offered its former seminary at Clonliffe College in Drumcondra for the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees.

It is estimated the facility could hold up to 620 people. A spokesman told The Irish Times that preparatory work would be necessary which could take some weeks.

Separately, parishes across the country have raised more than €3.25 million in collections in aid of Ukraine. Most of it was raised in a single weekend in late March.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin, as president and vice-president of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, issued a statement to thank the parishes across Ireland for their generosity.

Funds raised

“The large funds raised by Irish parishes will be channelled to assist those who are suffering such devastation to their lives and livelihoods,” they said.

“Parishes across Ireland have responded with enormous generosity and compassion and we are most grateful for that. It is also heartening that some parish communities have established direct links with Ukrainian parishes and local charitable projects to support refugees and those remaining in Ukraine.”

Speaking on Morning Ireland on Friday, Archbishop Martin said former retreat centres and other religious buildings would also be made available to provide accommodation, with “30 to 40” religious congregations offering rooms.

In some cases the buildings “may need a bit of work” but that people had been offering their services. It also might not be appropriate for shared accommodation to be offered in parochial houses, but in some circumstances priests had moved out to share with other clergy to make accommodation available.

Meanwhile, in Dublin's Raheny, a vacant parochial house is now occupied by a Ukrainian women and her four children. Her husband has remained at home to fight the Russians.

Raheny parish administrator Fr Mick Cullen said they had been planning to sell the house when he was listening to news about Ukraine on the radio "and I said to myself 'ah, here, come on'".

Local help

He put it to the parish council and the finance committee that they offer the house to the Red Cross to accommodate people fleeing Ukraine. The response was unanimous and enthusiastic “from everybody. Not one dissented. So we offered the house to the Red Cross”. They inspected it and it was approved.

"It all happened within 24 hours. There was a huge level of co-operation from local people in preparing the house for the refugees." Help also came from Dunnes and SuperValu locally, and Glen Dimplex, all of whom helped furnish and prepare the empty house for occupation.

“The Tidy Towns did the garden and a volunteer steam-cleaned the carpets and the driveway,” Fr Cullen added.