A Ukrainian couple who met on Sherkin Island off the south coast of Cork, where they are living, are celebrating the birth of the island’s first Ukrainian baby.
Andrii Grachov and Kateryna Muzychko said Olivia is also the world’s first “Sherkrainain,” as first reported in TheJournal.ie.
The tiny island where the couple met, married, and became parents is home to between 100 to 200 people.
Mr Grachov was relocated to Sherkin along with over 50 Ukrainians a day after being processed for Ukrainian refugee status in Dublin. Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Mr Grachov said he was “shocked.”
“When I was in Citywest, the volunteer who prepared the documents said, ‘You are really lucky you will go to Cork’. When I arrived in Baltimore, I realised it is a different Cork. It’s not Cork city, but Co Cork, west Cork.”
But his nervousness about isolation turned to joy when Mr Grachov met Ms Muzychko, who had also been assigned State accommodation on Sherkin.
“My hometown is Mariupol, and my wife is originally from Kyiv. There is no chance to meet in Ukraine. I met my wife on Skerkin Island.”
Was it love at first sight?
“You know, sometimes we meet some people, and there’s a feeling that we know this person all our life.”
The couple married on the island last month, celebrating with Ukrainian and local friends. A few weeks ago, baby Olivia was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital.
“It’s amazing,” said Mr Grachov, who says Olivia is spending her first weeks sleeping and eating. “She does not like when we change her diapers!”
Olivia is the first “Sherkrainain” baby born to Ukrainian parents on the beautiful Cork island.
“To be honest I still can’t believe I became a father. I would like to say a big thank you to all mothers and all women. It is a really hard job to give birth to a baby.”
They took baby Olivia back on the ferry to Sherkin to begin her life here in Ireland.
The new parents and baby Olivia are surrounded by love and support on Sherkin Island.
“They’re really nice kind people. They have helped me to find a job and everything, support everywhere.”
Mr Grachov is a Ukrainian support worker employed by Comhar na nOileán, through the social inclusion activation program.
Ms Muzychko is busy breastfeeding their little “Sherkrainain” around the clock.
Until she grows, baby Olivia will be unaware of the circumstances that brought her parents together – the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war.
“It’s terrible, you know,” said Mr Grachov, of the news from home.
“For example, my hometown, they destroyed our city (Mariupol). On the spot where people had apartments, they have built new houses to sell to Russian people.”
He also lost a family member to the war while many others have been displaced.
“My cousin was killed one year and three months ago. He was in the army.”
So, would the couple like to bring their daughter up on Sherkin?
“Yes, I’m very happy here,” said Mr Grachov, who has worked as a seafarer – a job that has taken him to many places.
“I can compare life around the work, Senegal, Egypt, everywhere. My opinion is this is the best place for Olivia.”