Moving to another country can be a daunting experience for most, for the young folk it’s an adventure. A new culture, new experiences, new sights, new people, and then the anxiety of leaving familiar ground, it’s a decision that’s not taken lightly. Ireland has a reputation that welcomes visitors, céad mile fáilte! And rightly so, the Euros are an example of the lengths we go to to demonstrate the good nature of the Irish. Céad mile fáilte, that’s a hundred thousand welcomes, to the select few. Refugees, asylum seekers, disadvantaged groups and minorities unfortunately don’t often get the same open-armed response.
Ireland is a wonderful country, with amazing people and beautiful traditions. A nation of storytellers, poets, we have the most inspiring scenery, and for the most part we are all round good craic. But like everything, there is a darker side.
The story of Marioara Rostas, a pretty 18 year old Romanian girl, who moved here with her family in 2008, has stayed with me and reveals a brutal and unfair reality that lurks in our fair Dublin. It is probably one that hides in the shadows of most cities across the world.
Marioara lived with her family in Donabate she lived in Ireland three weeks and lay in a shallow grave in the Wicklow Mountains for 1,500 days. When I think of Marioara, I think of a young girl and how she must have felt coming to Ireland, and how she trusted those Irish lads when she got into their car. I try not to think of what happened after that. It’s a nightmare that every girl shudders from, and every parent trembles at. I suppose Marioara affects me because I see a girl, not a refugee, not a beggar, not a Romanian, but a person.
Céad Míle Fáilte Mariora
Come to Dublin, soak up the city!
Grey and brown streets ever so gritty.
Stroll through our town, begging for change,
But beware the hospitality of men so strange.
Céad Míle Fáilte, pretty Mariora
Young girl of Roma diaspora
You stayed forever, but never grew old
Crying. Alive Alive oh, Alive Alive Oh!
One hundred thousand welcomes!
Visit our streets, visit our homes,
Surrounded by people, but all so alone.
You paid the price with flesh and bone.
Come meet the locals in Dublin’s fair city,
Dirty old town, isn’t it so pretty?
Grit and grime and friend and foe,
Sweet Marioara, Alive Alive Oh…
Photos by David Meehan