Ballagh refugees look forward to fun-filled Christmas

More than 170 Syrian refugees are getting set to celebrate their first Christmas in Ireland in the Abbeyfield Hotel emergency reception and orientation centre in Ballaghaderreen.

The refugees have opted to have a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings on Monday with fish and chips for tea, which has become one of their favourite dishes, followed by a party on Christmas night.

And the children are not being forgotten with Santi or Papa Noelle, as his is known to them, arriving by garda car escort at 11am laden down with surprise gifts, which have been donated.

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Although many are looking forward to the day, Jacqueline Mullen, manager of the Ballaghaderreen Eroc, says it may be bittersweet for some remembering their loved ones in Syria or in refugee camps across Europe.