Medical Supplies Head from Cork into Ukraine with Support from Cork, Cloyne and Ross

Today, Tuesday 8th March, at 2 p.m. 5 van loads carrying 13 tonnes of medical supplies and aid contributed by Cork people and organisations in Cork will depart for Ukraine, driven by a team from the Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery accompanied by Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners. The cost of the ferry crossing from Rosslare to Cherbourg for the 5 vans has been covered, through an impulse offer of Bishop Paul Colton at lunch with Caitriona last Friday, by some of the clergy, employees and parishes of the Church of Ireland Dioceses of of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. The vans will travel onwards through France, Belgium, Germany and into Poland where, at the border with Ukraine, the Cork team will be met by members of the Redemptorist Order who will bring them into Ukraine.

Caitriona Twomey taking a lead in getting the emergency supplies sorted. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Bishop Colton tells the story:

Caitriona Twomey was being inducted into the Hall of Fame last Friday at the 29th annual Cork Person of the Year Awards lunch organised by Manus O’Callaghan and I had the immense joy of sitting next to her and one of her drivers. – Tomas – who speaks both Polish and Russian, and who told me he can manage Ukrainian too. Caitriona is the sort of person we in Cork always give a standing ovation to for her work with Cork Penny Dinners and her work for social justice in so many other ways.

Before lunch she was telling me about her trip – how Christy O’Donovan of the Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery team got a rush of blood to the head to go to the Ukraine to help. When he told Caitriona, she got a rush of blood to the head as well and said to him “I will go with you.” (Her mother had made about 50 similar trips to war-torn Bosnia in the 1990s).

Before lunch she told me that in a matter of days, the cost per van of the ferry crossing from Ireland to France had gone up by €290, from €500 to €790. I myself then got a rush of blood to the head – we were all getting rushes of blood to the head – and I said to her, Susan and I will pay €800 for the fare for one of those vans.

Then my soup arrived, I hadn’t told Susan, and I started to wonder where I would get the €800. So , letting the soup go cold in front of me, I sent a message to our clergy and employees’ WhatsApp group, told them the story, and asked if anyone wanted to chip in with my offer. By the end of lunch we had the full cost of 3 of the vans and by the next morning with a few parishes also weighing in, we had the full cost of all 5 of the vans.

This has been a remarkable and impetuous response of a small team of people in Cork, Cloyne and Ross to a great need. I am so grateful to them all, as I know Caitriona and the Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery Team are too. I am mindful as well that this is on top of what so many individuals and parishes in the Diocese are also already doing in response to the heart-breaking need in Ukraine.

Bishop Paul Colton and Caitriona Twomey grab a selfie during last Friday’s lunch

When Caitriona Twomey heard about this response she told Bishop Colton ‘We had some tears when I told the lads. Thank you!’

In recent days, the medical supplies which have been donated have been accumulated at the North Cathedral through the good offices of Bishop Fintan Gavin and his team in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, and they have also helped the travelling team to make links with Redemptorists in Ukraine.

Getting one of the five vans ready. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Bishop Colton added:

Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine, and now also with these friends from our City and County who are going out, this very afternoon with our support, to bring what help they can. I pray for God’s blessing on them.

With Caitriona Twomey after the Cork Person of the Year Awards lunch were Bishop Paul Colton and Bishop Fintan Gavin. Photograph: Kate Durrant
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