The population of Sherkin Island in southwest Cork is expected to increase by almost 50% as a local hotel opens its doors to 57 Ukrainian refugees.

The hotel had been closed since the winter of 2020 and locals saw an opportunity to welcome refugees, as the hotel can hold up to 59 people.

Chairperson of Sherkin Island Development Society Deirdre Ní Luasaigh said that the refugees arrived last Thursday and over the weekend, with the youngest refugee being six weeks old.

She said that the island has refined services and resources, so Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann stepped in to take on the bulk of the linking with Red Cross and HSE services to help in a practical way on the ground.

Ms Ní Luasaigh added that locals had got in touch with the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) to say that they wanted to help and see the space used.

She said they wanted to welcome the refugees on the pier and give them a reception, but the advice was to let the refugees integrate themselves.

It is a very different world to what they are used to, she said, adding that an inter-agency group is currently assessing the needs, with locals helping where they can.

Ms Ní Luasaigh said it was important to give people time to settle, but "so far so good", with local children getting involved in fundraising and interacting with other children.

She added that children will start school on the mainland in September, and travel daily by Ferry and that meetings are taking place now, so that supplies arrive in time for the start of school.