Uplifting film Hotel For Refugees, premiering on Tuesday 7 November at 10.45pm on BBC One, features two religious communities, Muslim and Catholic, as they learn to co-exist and come together through their faith.
Ballaghaderreen is a remote and traditional town in the west of Ireland. Since March 2017, its small and staunchly Roman Catholic community has been dealing with the arrival of hundreds of Syrian war-torn refugees. Many of the townsfolk and local children are determined to give the refugees a warm Catholic welcome. Others fear that the new arrivals could soon overwhelm the town.
Among the refugees is Ghassan, aged 21, who fled Syria with his grandmother, aunt, niece and nephew, leaving his parents behind. While their asylum claims are being processed, home for the next six months is the Abbeyfield Hotel – built during the Celtic Tiger boom, but long since abandoned.
As the refugees arrive and settle in, the film meets some of the townsfolk who are helping: Jackie who gave up a career in luxury hotels and now runs the Abbeyfield and helps the refugees to acclimatize; and Mary who runs the local clothes shop, and believes the Irish history of emigration behoves them to open their doors to the Syrians.
The film explores how much the local community is motivated and driven by their faith, and whether the refugees feel defined and supported by their own faith. Can the townsfolk and the newcomers put aside any differences they may have and find a shared humanity?
Pictured are Jackie, Ghassan, Ahlam, Seeham, Jenan, Judy in Ballaghaderreen
Hotel For Refugees airs Tuesday 7 November 2017 from 10.45pm-11.25pm on BBC One.