During conflict and war, many civilians find themselves changing roles as their skills are more useful in other areas. Award-winning Irish Tour & Coach operator, Paddywagon stepped up to the mark in the past week and in a remarkable act of practicality and charity commissioned five coaches, crewed by its own drivers and staff to the Ukrainian border with Poland with much needed supplies. On the return journey, the convoy of coaches arrived back in Cork with refugees on board, escaping from the conflict in Ukraine.
Five coaches operated by Paddywagon arrived into Cork’s Ringaskiddy Port full of refugees fleeing Ukraine. The arriving women, children and the elderly, are currently being registered and allocated residential accommodation around the Cork region. Leaving Ireland last week the coaches transported out, medical supplies, water, pet food and some baby items to Warsaw in Poland for distribution to those that require assistance along the Ukrainian border. One week later and with over 5,000 km covered by road, the group returned home. Eleven drivers undertook the journey in relays, and as Cathal O’ Connell, CEO of Paddywagon explained: “Our drivers are used to helping people enjoy themselves and I have no doubt that Ukrainian people’s journey to Ireland was pleasant and all arriving with smiles on their faces.”
Accompanying the group, Gabriel Finn, Transport Manager and co-ordinator with Paddywagon said: “This was truly a team effort, we used two Mercedes-Benz Tourismo large coaches, and three Irizars (Scania) for the trip. Of course, we had more than the buses to think about, and thanks to the assistance of Pat Curran from the Harris Group in helping with emigration protocols, which was invaluable, and also to Brittany Ferries in providing meals and accommodation for the Ukrainians. Indeed, our drivers too played a pivotal role in the operation.”
On Tuesday last, the group were seen off from the Harris Group head office on the Naas Road by many well-wishers including Denise Harris, CEO, of the Harris Group and received an official blessing by Fr. Bryan OFM Cap. They were escorted by Garda Outriders to Dublin Port. Speaking on the Brendan O Conner Show on RTE Radio 1 on Sunday last, Cathal O’ Connell said: “This trip would not have taken place without the help of Denise Harris, she is a marvelous woman.”
Padraic (Podge) Curran of the Harris Group, who travelled with the group summed it up well: “It was hard not to be moved by the events of this week. We saw nervous people arriving to board the coaches in Poland, as we made our way home they seemed to relax and get excited about coming to Ireland, the joy on their faces made it all worthwhile. It is a week none of us will forget.”