‘Leaving was the toughest decision I have ever made in my life’: How a Ukrainian refugee escaped the hell of war

Olena Flanahan left Ukraine with her baby daughter Santa, and after a traumatic journey through three countries, is now staying in a hotel in Tralee in Co Kerry

Olena Flanahan with her baby daughter Santa in Tralee, Co Kerry: ‘A long queue of women with children stood out in my memory.’ Picture: Domnick Walsh

After being forced to leave her husband behind and an arduous journey through three countries with her infant daughter, Olena Flanahan is enjoying some tranquillity in the Irish countryside.

The 28-year-old Ukrainian woman arrived in Ireland on March 12 with Santa, her 17-month-old daughter, after a nearly two-week journey which started with air-raid sirens in Odessa. Her story is similar to those of thousands of others who have made it to Ireland having fled Ukraine.