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‘Really overwhelmed but really happy’ – Carlow student Racheal Diyaolu arrives safely home from Ukraine

Racheal Diyaolu arrived into Dublin Airport on Thursday night

Racheal Diyaolu with Joe McCarthy and Gary Taylor

Seoirse Mulgrew

Carlow Student Racheal Diyaolu has said she is “really happy” to finally arrive home to Ireland after fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

The 19-year-old flew into Dublin Airport late last night and was reunited with her family at long last.

“Really overwhelmed but really happy, it’s good to be home. Been away for so long and obviously in the circumstances it’s been very scary, and I didn’t know when I’d get to get home so I’m just really happy to be back with everyone again,” she told RTÉ.

“It was a very anxious journey, we had a lot of really bad roads, a lot of things that went wrong along the way, but we stayed positive, and we knew that once we were out of Sumy it was home straight, we just knew we had to go a little bit further and we’d be back home soon.”

The medical student was rescued on Monday along with her Nigerian friends Roycee Iloielunachi and Anolajuwon Solarin, by two Scottish gardeners who drove them out of the city.

The students had been trapped in the university city Sumy since the invasion began 16 days ago.

“There was a bombing I think two days after we left so it was really good that we got out when we did,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Ms Diyaolu said she was able to remain calm in order to update her family back home on her welfare.

“I think for my family I wanted to get back to them and I didn’t want them to be worrying about me when I was away, calls home were important and it was really important for me to stay calm and let them know that I was okay and that I’d get home to them at some point and here we are,” she said.

Ms Diyaolu said she knew she was in safe hands once she caught a glimpse of the Romanian border.

“It was a bit surreal because we’d been on the road for so long, it felt like the end was never going to come, we’d been travelling for so long but seeing the Romanian border meant that I was home safe so it was a really good feeling,” she said.

Joe McCarthy (55) and Gary Taylor (45), who run Ready2Rock landscaping in Falkirk, volunteered to get the students out of Sumy and have been posting video updates on their TikTok page.

As well as rescuing Ms Diyaolu and her two friends, Mr McCarthy and Mr Taylor rescued a mother and her son and an elderly couple.

“It was nice to see some people who spoke English for a change, and they were always ready to have a laugh and take care of us if we needed anything. I don’t know what I would do without them honestly, they’re God sends,” she said.

Ms Diyaolu said she is relieved that she can continue her education in Ireland as the Minister of Higher Education Simon Harris said students forced to flee the war will be helped to find places in Irish colleges.

“I knew myself that going out to another country again I don’t know how that would go down with the family, thinking of travelling again so to know that I can continue my education here it’s honestly such a relief,” she said.

Her mother said she was relieved to see her daughter home safely, Yemmy Diayolu said: “Thank God I’m happy to see her alive so that’s the main thing.”

Racheal's father Taiwo Diyaolu said his daughter’s resilience got her back home safely.

“I’m proud of her, the kind of stuff she’s made of she’s very resilient, very peaceful and very positive, that’s what saw her through, I’m very happy she’s back,” he said.

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