Ballaghaderreen does Ireland proud with a true Céad Míle Fáilte for Syrian refugees

There are now more than 100 Syrian refugees living on the grounds of the old Abbeyfield Hotel in Ballaghadereen and University of Limerick student, Cillian Sherlock, paid them a vist.

Ballaghaderreen does Ireland proud with a true Céad Míle Fáilte for Syrian refugees

Ballaghadereen is a small town in Co. Roscommon with a population of approximately 2,000 people.

Locals have been making efforts to welcome the groups of refugees that have been arriving in the town since March.

Local barber Sajjad Hussain has organised weekly soccer matches between the arriving Syrian refugees and the local Pakistani community.

“I decided to help them out. As a human being it’s just nice to help them out,” he said.

In the first weeks of the friendly competition the Pakistani side always took home the victory, but in their last meeting the new arrivals finally triumphed in front of a crowd composed of both locals and refugees.

Mr Hussain said the soccer matches helps the refugees escape some of the problems of their past.

“It’s not easy sitting in the hotel all day. You think more and more about your past and lots of people have had really hard times in Syria. It’s nice to forget for a little while and be involved in sport and have a laugh and a bit of fun,” he said.

Mr Hussain is also involved in the local Islamic Cultural Centre and said the refugees have been welcomed there also.

Mr Hussain said some locals have raised concerns over facilities in the town and there have been calls for the government to spend more money in the town.

“People are welcoming, they have no problem with them coming because everybody knows they are in trouble and there were lots of hurdles for them to cross to come here,” he said.

Mr Hussain said that there has been a negative reaction from people outside the town, which resulted in the circulation of an anti-Islamic leaflet in the areas around the hotel.

“There are always haters but we should not focus on them too much. I think we should concentrate on the positive things,” he added.

This story and video is part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Limerick and the Irish Examiner.

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