There have been many reasons why we have been collectively shocked by the horrors emerging from Ukraine. There is the visceral evilness of it all; the relative proximity.
But there is also the nagging sense that the world has been here before and has not learned the lesson.
Much has been made over the last while of the decade of centenaries that this country will be marking, and although we might feel we are at the furthest remove ever from events a century ago, it is only now that we are starting to make sense of it.
Perhaps we fooled ourselves into thinking that every century brings progress; that every new year and decade brings us nearer nirvana and further away from the senselessness of what transpired.
When the World Wars took place in the last century, we were not the country we are now. Yet we gave to the war efforts in terms of manpower, and hospitality to those affected.
In the coming days and weeks and months, we will be providing a respite from the horrors for tens of thousands of Ukrainians. They will be shocked and hurt and scarred by what they have already seen, and what they will undoubtedly continue to see as long as the conflict continues.
We have sensed the loss of childhood for our own children who were taken out of school and society for the duration of the lockdowns, but that is nothing compared to the loss of childhood that the children of Ukraine have endured. Their childhood has been suddenly replaced by a horrifying vista of reality. They will have seen and heard and lived experiences that will shape them for the rest of their lives.
We have a role to play in helping to stem this horror. We can become the hospitable hosts providing a warmth for which we have become noted. We can do this, because we care and we have a greater sense of ourselves and our role in the world.
During lockdown, we found the soundness to look after those who needed looking after; whole communities turned out to shop and mind those who were unable to. Armies of volunteers gave up time they would have used for other activities to make sure that nobody was left behind in terms of want. It was a wonderful effort and now we must do it again.
By the way, there are many locals who have gone out to comfort the refugees and help them with what they need. Galway’s Ronan Scully is one of those out on the borders of Ukraine helping the needy. You can read his story on page 36. We send well wishes to him and to every one of you who has offered to make Ireland a safe home for those impacted by this evil act of aggression.