There was some well-needed good news from Dublin Airport on Thursday night, as Racheal Diyaolu arrived home safely from Ukraine.
The medicine student from Carlow had been stranded in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion but, after a prolonged journey home, enjoyed a tearful reunion with her family in Dublin Airport on Thursday.
Speaking to RTÉ on arrival, she said the first thing she would do when she arrived back home to Carlow was sleep and catch up with her family.
Racheal Diyaolu overwhelmed and overjoyed to return home
19-year-old Racheal Diyaolu from Carlow had travelled to Sumy in eastern Ukraine three and a half months ago. The medicine student was left stranded in the city when the Russian invasion began in late February.
Diyaolu was eventually helped to travel cross country by two volunteers from Scotland, Joe McCarthy and Gary Taylor, who drove her across Ukraine over the course of three days this week.
After crossing the Romanian border on Wednesday, Diyaolu finally arrived back into Dublin Airport on Thursday, and there were emotional scenes as she was reunited with her family.
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 11, 2022
Speaking to RTÉ News, Diyaolu was asked how she felt to return home to Ireland:
[Feeling] really overwhelmed! But really happy, great to be home, really happy to be home. I can't explain it, you know, I've been away for so long and obviously the circumstances have been very scary. I didn't know when I'd get to get home.
I'm just really happy to be back home and meet everybody again.
When asked what the first thing she would do on her return to Carlow would be, she said she was understandably exhausted and looking forward to a good sleep.
I think sleep! I'm so tired, really, really tired.
But, obviously, spend as much time with the family as I can, try and catch up on the last three and a half months and get some rest.
Racheal Diyaolu's sister, Christiana, had been posting updates on her sister's safety to her Twitter account over the past few weeks, and was in tears as Racheal arrived back into Ireland safely.
Christiana said to RTÉ at the airport:
I'm her big sister. I had to do what big sisters do and look after my little sister so I did my best to try to advocate for her, and now she's back home. I'm so grateful for everyone's help to bring her here
Racheal's mother, Yemmy Diyaolu, said that she was merely happy to see her daughter alive, in a powerful comment that captured the strain of the past few weeks.
Her father Taiwo praised her resilience and said it was her "peaceful, and very positive" nature that had seen her through the ordeal of returning home safely.
Diyaolu's rescuers from Scotland have earned plenty of plaudits for their bravery. The pair travelled to Ukraine of their own volition to rescue those stranded in the country. Along with Diyaolu, they evacuated several others from Sumy, including a young child. Diyaolu herself praised the pair earlier this week when her safety was confirmed.
McCarthy and Taylor spoke to RTÉ earlier this week and described their ordeal, saying that getting to Sumy had involved Russian soldiers stealing their phones and shooting out their tyres.
The news of Racheal Diyaolu's safe return home to Ireland is a relief for all who had been following the young Carlow student's journey.