The windows of the Ukrainian embassy in Dublin were defiantly illuminated in blue and yellow. Outside the gates, a small shrine had grown, with candles flickering steadily in the ghostly silence.
Someone had left a picture of Putin in devil’s horns – an expression of outrage at the scenes playing out before our eyes and in real time.
When we watched the horrors of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers play out on our television screens, it seemed, back then, we could not possibly get any closer to the scene of disaster. But in 20 intervening years, so much has changed in terms of technology that we have a chillingly clear-sighted view of the catastrophic circumstances in which the people of Ukraine now find themselves.
Coverage of previous wars in jerky, grainy, black and white footage forced us to adopt a detached view of the horror of conflict. But instantaneous, crystal-clear connections have changed war reportage into something much more graspable and much closer to home.
Morphing from a peacetime tool of idle, often bored commentary on life into a harrowing documentation of the brutal realities of war, social media now serves to unspool history in a way that propaganda will struggle to tame.
Indeed, the frenzied wrestling underway in this regard looks laughably cack-handed and like an approach from a different era when we can witness the truth for ourselves.
And so we watch, wondering what it will take for the West to intervene – and what the consequences might be – as a frighteningly long convoy of Russian tanks proceeds with exacting menace towards Kyiv.
And as Russian forces try to knock out communications by bombing the TV tower, families in Kharkiv pull up their blinds to show us the mercilessly violent bombing of their city.
Most powerful of all are the heartbreaking human stories emerging from this invasion, since we are not only watching the horrific devastation being inflicted on the innocents of Ukraine but are also privy to their innermost thoughts. In one video, a Ukrainian woman addresses Russian mothers, saying: “Don’t let your son come to my land… don’t kill my children… please take your son from the army.”
In the comments, a debate ensues as to whether a video said to be a young Russian soldier captured as a prisoner of war is legitimate or merely constitutes propaganda.
In it, he telephones his mother. She asks why they will not let him go. “Mom, I’m a prisoner, I came here as the aggressor. How can they let me go?” he reasons with her.
The journey of Ian Umney went viral on TikTok after embarking on a two-day trip to Ukraine to be with his wife and son, quitting work in the UK to travel to be by their side.
Millions of people watched the videos of his journey and he amassed almost 200,000 followers.
In a TikTok post, her voice broken by grief and disbelief, a woman gave a tour showing the total destruction of her apartment in Kyiv after a bomb attack as her young daughter sat in the bathroom for safety, the outside walls gaping open to the elements.
On Twitter, a photograph of a Polish border guard holding a small boy by the hand and pulling a wheelie case with the other as she assists his family to safety, his mother carrying her baby in her arms, her face dazed and crumpled.
While video footage shows the desperation of scenes at Kyiv central train station as people run in a frantic effort to board an already packed train as the heartbreaking wail of a young child can be heard in the background.
As always, it is the children who suffer most in times of war and it is their photographs which are the hardest to see.
In the basement of the Kyiv children’s hospital, two tiny babies lie on a mattress, swaddled in blankets.
Older children, hooked up to IV drips, are moved in their beds to the hallways. Children with cancer continue their treatment in the basement as fighting continues around them.
A maternity ward was also moved to an underground shelter.
Another photograph showed a specialised orphanage in a Ukrainian city as all the children were taken in their pyjamas to the bomb shelter for safety, carers trying to keep their spirits up, seven babies all placed into the same cot.
Etched on our memories for all time will be the smiling face of Polina, the nine-year-old schoolgirl who, along with her parents, was shot dead by Russian troops as they drove in their car on a road in Kyiv.
Another six-year-old girl was killed when her family home was bombed, doctors battling in vain to save her.
The UN has warned that the situation for children caught up in the conflict grows worse by the minute.
Meanwhile, we watch with dread as the invasion escalates with each fresh horror inflicted on the Ukrainian people. Fearing what may come next.