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Ireland

Ireland is the only country in the world where there lived more people 200 years ago than today. And the difference is rather large in 1840 the island had 8,2 million inhabitants while today it hosts merely 5,6 million. The Irish were forced out from their homeland by poverty and malnutrition.

Prior to World War 2 no Lithuanians would have even considered moving to Ireland which was at the time poorer than Lithuania. Sadly, the subsequent decades of Soviet occupation and genocide in Lithuania (1940-1990) changed all this and Ireland left Lithuania far behind economically. After 1990 Lithuanian independence and 2004 EU membership permitted easy migration tens of thousands chose the English-speaking Ireland to start hopefully richer lives there.

The young age of Lithuanian-Irish community means there are no imposing centuries-old Lithuanian halls, cemeteries or churches in Ireland (unlike the US megalopolises). Lithuanian mass is however celebrated weekly in Dublin at St. Andrew church (Westland Row 2), there are some Lithuanian shops and restaurants.

Lituanica store in Dublin, its name inspired by the doomed Lithuanian flight of 1933 that attempted to cross Atlantic. Google Street View.

Republic of Ireland census of 2011 revealed that there are 36 683 citizens of Lithuania living there (0,82% of total population) and 31 635 native speakers of Lithuanian (0,7%; the third linguistic minority in size after Polish and French). 10% of all Lithuanian emigrants today leave for Ireland.

Lithuanian citizens are quite evenly spread across the country. By the sheer numbers, most of them live in Dublin (10 576, 0,85% of Dubliners). Castleknock is the most Lithuanian district with ~10% of its population Lithuanian citizens.

There are daily plane services between Lithuanian and Irish cities but the frequencies have been decreasing. The financial crisis in Ireland itself may have attributed to this.

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  1. I am very happy to report that there is a thriving Lithuanian community in Ireland, with Lithuanian schools in several towns (teaching is on Saturdays, so that the children can practice Lithuanian, as well as learning Irish and English languages during the school week); there are two Lithuanian theatre groups in Dublin (plays are regularly staged); and there are Lithuanian shops in many towns. We have Lithuanian community groups also, not only in Dublin but in many rural towns (their Facebook pages reflect the variety and geographic spread); and festivals such as Užgavėnes are celebrated.
    See, for example, Mullingar: https://www.facebook.com/mullitcom?fref=ts
    And in one of Ireland’s old cities, Armagh:
    https://www.facebook.com/Armagh-Lithuanian-Community-Amber-623917354339572/timeline/
    https://www.facebook.com/LLC-LOUTH-LITHUANIAN-COMMUNITY-140087442738858/timeline/
    Oldcastle, County Meath: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007585814907

    There are more groups; and in Dublin we have Lyrikos Vakarai, a lovely group of people who organise several evenings of poetry, music and song every year. See https://www.facebook.com/lyrikos.vakarai?fref=ts

    As you correctly pointed out, we have weekly Mass in Lithuanian at St Andrew’s Church in Dublin, and our Lithuanian priest also visits and celebrates Mass in other cities such as Belfast, Cork and Galway.

    We are also very fortunate to have excellent Lithuanian Ambassadors to Ireland — they have helped to create cultural and commercial links between Ireland and Lithuania; and events at the Embassy are a joy to attend (see https://www.facebook.com/ambasadaDubline?fref=ts)(and ie.mfa.lt). The Lithuanian Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Rasa Adomaitienė is the nicest person you could possibly meet, and she is not only well liked among the diplomatic corps in Ireland, but she is doing an extremely good job encouraging good relations between Irish and Lithuanian people.

    At the Embassy every year we celebrate Independence Day, the Restoration of Independence Day, and the Crowning of King Mindaugas.

    In the commercial area, we have a significant number of small Lithuanian companies and individuals in a variety of activities: producing bread and cakes, construction work, transportation (weekly van deliveries between Ireland and Lithuania for example), photography, hairdressing, dentistry, and many more. We don’t how many Lithuanian families have bought or built houses in Ireland, and have settled down here, with children being brought up in two or three languages. And of course there is quite a number of Irish-Lithuanian couple — love knows no boundaries, and it seems that Irish and Lithuanians have something in common which results in good stable relationships.

    There is much more to report from Ireland, but I have given enough information I hope to show you that the Lithuanian community is here to stay in Ireland, and is contributing to Ireland’s cultural diversity.


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