BallyB rolls out red carpet for special guests

Ballybunion gets its fair share of groups of returning visitors each year, but there's one group in particular that has become very close to the community's heart.

Belarusian children were back in Ballybunion with Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children's International last week for what is the 14th year the charity brought children to the town.

These are 'legacy' victims of the Chernobyl disaster. Although born many years after the 1986 tragedy, they continue to live in its shadow, with often debilitating conditions as a result of the radiation suffered by their parents and grandparents. Even just a few days in, the crystal-clear Atlantic air works wonders, however.

"This was our 14th year in what has proved a very successful and rewarding experience for everyone who helps out each year," local first-aid responder Frank O'Connor said. It was Frank who set the link up having spent two weeks in Belarus with Adi Roche in 2004.

"A huge thank you to Ballybunion Fire and Rescue Service who have been there also from the start, as were Owen and Jennifer Walsh of Pavilion Leisure Centre, who give the children the run of the place and spoil them rotten," Frank said.

Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue members, meanwhile, put on a fantastic programme of fun games on the beach for the children, as the Coastguard helicopter performed a special flyover. And McMunn's Restaurant was on hand with a much-needed three-course meal for all 16 children afterwards. "A sincere thank you to all who were involved," Frank said.