Posted in Posts and podcasts

The Irish Republic – Ukmerge Lithuania – 1922

Jon Sullivan

Jon Sullivan

Irish in Russia Heard Peace News
Descendants of the Irish Brigade were deeply affected
Captain Francis McCullough, a former British Officer, writes to the Manchester Guardian from Ukmerge, Lithuania, date December 9:
I sat until late last night before a logwood fire in an Irish castle, surrounded for scores of miles in every direction by Lithuanian forests, deep in snow. The wail of the icy wind through the trees sounded like the keen of the banshee, and sometimes I could catch the distant howling of a wolf. No more suitable setting could have been found for the tales I listened to and told – tales of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, of the devastating Williamite wars in Ireland and of that awful period of persecution which followed the Williamite wars.
I held in my hands a sword which had been wielded at the Boyne – on the losing side – and I had examined a fragmentary record printed by order of the last Catholic Parliament which sat in Dublin over two and a half centuries ago. I had heard a violin give one of the saddest and most melting of all the old Irish melodies; and in return I had sung as best I could, in Russia, many of the Irish songs which I had learned as a boy in Ireland over twenty years ago, but have not forgotten since.
It was a strange night and a strange company. Everybody around me claimed to be Irish, but not one of them spoke Irish or English, for the noble Lithuanian family with which I am passing my Christmas holiday is descended from one of the Irish chiefs who left his native country after the fall of Limerick.
One member of the family was absent, young Rory, who had ridden in to town on some business connected with the estate, and who had promised to bring me back any news from Russia that he got hold of, for it is the Russian, not the Irish, situations that accounts for my being in this part of the world. Rory had not returned when I retired to my bedroom, and as I sat down in a chair to await him my mind became filled with thoughts of the “old, forgotten, bygone things and battles ong ago” which had occupied my attention for so many hours that night.
I was awakened by a knocking at my door and the voice of Rory. From the furs, which he had not taken off, and from the snow on his fox skin papakha, I concluded that he had just jumped off his horse and come straight to my room. His face was flushed and his eyes shone. “What is it Rory?” said I. “Any news form the Red frontier?”
“Great news,” he replied, speaking in Russian. “Peace is signed between England and Ireland. The Irish Republic is recognized. The horrors of the Civil War are now things of the past.” He mistranslated “Free State” as “Respublica,” but he had got the gist of the peace terms all right.
To me Rory’s message was more than news. It was the rolling back of the stone from a nation’s sepulchre. And my hosts, whose ancestors had left Ireland over two hundred years ago, were as affected as I.



B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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