Russians in Ireland

This book tells the story of the Russian-speaking community of Ireland, as well as the links, historical and current, between Ireland and Russia, which have recently developed rapidly and have the potential to become even stronger in the future.

Part I

Historical Relations – Ireland – Russia

This book is the result of ten-years work by employees and journalists of the first Russian-language newspaper in Ireland “Nasha Gazeta”. A collection of materials about Russian compatriots was assembled and edited by us specifically for our regular and new readers.

The book would not have been possible without the financial support of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ireland and the “Russky Mir” foundation.

The distance between the two countries, the island of Ireland and the vast country of Russia that takes up one sixth of the planet, once led to confusion on both sides. Many Russians when asked about Ireland had only a vague idea that it was somewhere to the west of London. Many Irish people found it almost impossible to imagine exactly how immense a country Russia is.

However, we found a surprising similarity between the views of the Russians and the Irish, which is not noticeable at first glance, but after a long stay in Ireland for the Russian or a long stay in Russia for the Irishman it became evident that both nationalities had a lot in common. In this regard, we felt it necessary to tell you about the outstanding representatives of Russia and Ireland, who left a bright mark on history and continue to contribute to  Russian-Irish relations.

Relations between Ireland and Russia go back a long way. The Irish took part in  hostilities in the territory of Russia, both as attackers and in the ranks of the Russian armed forces. The greatest fame belongs to a native of Limerick, Peter Edmund Lacey, who as the Russian Army Field Marshal Peter Petrovich Lacy participated in 1709 in the famous battle of Poltava, in which the troops of Peter the Great defeated the army of Charles the Twelfth. He led the successful capture of Perekop in 1737 and became Governor General of Livonia with his headquarters in Riga. He was succeeded in this position by his relative and fellow Limerickman General George Browne. Both men were buried in the little Catholic church at Skaitskalne at Latvia’s border with Lithuania.

In 1804, the Irish composer John Field gave his first concert in St. Petersburg. In 1812, Field was firmly entrenched in Russia, and among his students was the  young Mikhail Glinka.

History also records the first “political” immigration out of the Russian Empire. In 1862, exiled forever from the Russian Empire and converted to Catholicism, Vladimir Petchorin became the first chaplain of Dublin’s Mater Hospital. It was he who, according to contemporaries, became the model for Lermontov’s celebrated “Hero of Our Time”

In the  the late nineteenth century the Latvian Karl Peterson made an important contribution to  strongly to local business and custom in Dublin . He patented a unique pipe , which was highly appreciated among smokers worldwide.

But  perhaps the best-known businessman of Russian origin in Ireland was Ivan Beshoff. The fate of this “hard-working capitalist” evolved quite unusually: in 1905 as a mechanic, he participated in the uprising on the battleship “Potemkin”, and after wandering around Europe, settled in Ireland. Here he started his own business – a snack bar Beshoff Bros, Which marked the beginning of a network of fish restaurants, where to this day you can taste traditional fish and chips.

During the First World War, in 1916 in Ireland, at that time still a British colony,  the Easter Rising took place with the participation of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army. The latter was described as the world’s first Red Army by Lenin who led the Bolshevik October Revolution the following year.

In the 1920s and 1930s some Irish republicans became interested in the theory of the World Socialist Revolution and there are known instances of contact and cooperation between Republicans and Bolsheviks at that time.

During the Second World War, despite the fact that Ireland was neutral,  Irishmen volunteered and  fought in the British and United States armies allied with the Soviet Union and participated in the northern convoys, escorting supplies of ammunition, equipment, food and strategic raw materials. Irish journalist of Belarusian descent, George Reavey became editor of the first front-line newspaper in Russian, the “British ally.”

But the most revealing example of the spiritual concord between the Irish and Russian peoples is a song that has become really popular in Russia, “Evening Bells,” of which the original words were written by Thomas Moore, the Irish romantic poet.

The engine of the modern development of bilateral relations, of course, is commercial and based on the growth in Irish people’s interest in establishing ties such with the new Russia.

Back in the mid 1980s “Aeroflot” organized a base in Shannon Airport. The prime movers of this cooperation were the Honorary Consul of Russia in Ireland, Mike Guerin and a representative of the company “Aeroflot” Boris Krivchenko.

The Irish Diaspora living and working in Russia played an important part in the development of relations between Russia and Ireland during the mid-90s. At that time Seamus Martin – Head of the “Irish Times” bureau in Moscow continued the work of George Reavey.

The Irish not only shared their knowledge and experience with the new Russia, but also brought Russian culture to Ireland: Maria Kiernan; architect; Mike Hogan and John Delargey, entrepreneurs; Monica Loughman, ballet; Luke O Callaghan, sports; Debbie Deegan, charity. The oldest specialist institution on the island is the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at Trinity College. Faculty teachers Sarah Smyth, Dmitry Tsiskarashvilli and Natalia Kulachkovskaya not only taught the Russian language, but also actively popularized Russian culture and participated in the life of the Diaspora.

Part II

Russian personalities and societies

General Information about the Russian speaking Community in Ireland

The modern Russian speaking community in Ireland originates between the 20th and 21st centuries. At that time the state was enjoying high rates of economic growth and in the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland led tables ranking the quality of life in Europe.

It was stated in 1999 that the Irish economy needed at least 50,000 new employees a year. The State especially required professionals in technology and biotechnology. Irish government representatives together with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment were regular participants at many trade missions and employment exhibitions hunting for staff abroad and with the expansion of the EU, they came to entice new Europeans, as well.

The Russian diaspora, which numbered just a few hundred in 1998, became one of the biggest non-national diaspora groups growing to some 100,000 people in 2008.


Immigrants not only ran businesses but also got involved in culture, sport and education for their children and for Irish people who were interested in Russian culture. At same time Russian expat organisations were growing.

The first one SORUSSI (Society of Russian Speakers of Ireland) organised free English language courses and then called on the Surozh Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox church to provide priests and regular services at the Greek Orthodox Church at Arbour Hill. At the same time, beginning the 2000s, the first Russian children’s clubs were founded in Booterstown, Co. Dublin and in Limerick. In 2001 the first issue of a Russian language newspaper was printed.

Russian media in Ireland

Now there are two weekly newspapers in the Russian language published in Ireland “Nasha Gazeta” (Our newspaper), the first of its kind, has been in print since 2001 and “Dublin-Infocentre”. As well as being the publisher of “Nasha Gazeta”, Sergey Tarutin also publishes the Lithuanian newspaper «Lietuvis» and the Latvian paper «Sveiks».  Internet radio “Grafton” covers both Irish and UK news from its base in Dublin.

Russian language internet is represented by two forums: “Virtualireland” and “Ostrov”. In April 2011 the first Russian language internet TV was launched. The TV channel broadcasts news and entertainment programmes.

Russian WEB sites

Russian business

In the period from 2000 to 2006 more than 200 East-European grocery stores opened their doors in Ireland. Many service bureaus doing translation, recruitment and consulting also opened. And many other businesses where people speak Russian, such us garages, barber shops, medical surgeries and travel agencies.

The Irish-Russian Enterprise Centre, which founded the first East European Business Forum in 2008, supports start-ups by Russian speaking entrepreneurs.

Bilateral business between the two countries is supported by Irish-Russian Business Association, chaired by Constantin Gurdgiev who is also a prominent Irish economist, commentator and professor at  Trinity College.

Irish Russian Business Association

East European Business forum

Culture and Art

There are a number of ensembles, clubs and cultural support organisations for Russians in Ireland.

An important event in the Russian community’s cultural life was the inaugural production of Dublin’s Russian Theatre in 2009, performing “Crazy Russian”.  The dance troupe “Vereneya” are regular participants at Russian events. Visual arts are represented by the photo club “Smena” founded in 2009.

The Festival of Russian Culture started in 2010 is now an annual event during the Russian pancake week, “Maslenitsa”. In the Russian capital, St. Patrick’s day has been celebrated with a traditional parade since 1992 and has become an integral part of cultural life.

The Russian speaking community has its own talented members including one of the best Irish saxophone players, Anton Petelchits, “Dancer of the year” Elena Degtyareva, Irish dance champions Vitaly Sevostyanov and Anna Stepunina, piano player Elizaveta Blumina, and the virtuoso violinist Oleg Ponomarev.


SARSI – The mission of the Sport Association of Russian speakers in Ireland is to create more sporting events and activities for the community.

In Dublin there is also the soccer club “Dynamo Dublin” and the mini football team “Soviet Union”.

The airsoft club “Kosa”, whose team are currently champions of Ireland, was founded in 2008 by Russian speakers.

And in chess, Ireland’s only grandmaster, Alexander Baburinn, has led the Irish national team in many international tournaments.

Education and Russian Language

Parents of Russian speaking children want them to keep their language and culture.

Eurolog-Ireland supports many weekend Russian schools, clubs and activities.

Orthodox church

The history of the Orthodox Church in Ireland started at the Greek church on Arbour Hill and St. Colman’s in the parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Stradbally, County Laois.

In 2001 in Harold’s Cross Dublin, the Church of St. Peter and Paul (Moscow Patriarchate) opened its doors. Patriarch Kirill has blessed this church, which serves the Russian parish.

The founder of this church was Fr. Michael Gogoleff and his successors were Fr. George Zavershinsky and Fr. Michael Nasonov. Now in Ireland there are six orthodox parishes and a number of priests who have permanently settled in Ireland.

Youth organisations are represented by a Russian student society in Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Dublin City University. Members of Russian societies in Dublin universities are not only expats but include Irish students and students from many other countries.

Regional associations

Most of the Russian speaking population live in the Greater Dublin area, but successful communities exist in other Irish regions.

The cultural centre “Allianz” in Galway has more than 1500 members and its own school, “Paper Crane”

Tatiana Zhinzhina and Vitaly Makhnanov from Cork have set up an East European Immigrant association and a Russian school as well.

Russian schools for the weekend have also opened in Limerick, Newbridge, Drogheda and Portlaoise.

In 2003 and 2008 with the support of the Department of Justice and of the “Russky Mir Foundation” the Irish-Russian Enterprise Centre conducted quality research into the needs and demands of the Russian Speaking Community in Ireland. In 2011 the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies of Trinity College published findings from the research project “Our Languages” on who in Ireland speaks Russian.

A Russian language exam is available for the state Leaving Certificate and in 2011 at least 300 pupils chose it.

Former president of Ireland Mary McAleese averred during an official visit to Russia in 2011: “Russian in Ireland is currently the second most popular language following English”


Table of Contents

Part I

Historic links between Ireland and Russia

An ardent catholic named Vladimir Pecherin

Nowadays the Irishman, Peter Edmund Lacy, born in Limerick, is considered one of Russia’s greatest generals

John Field taught Russians to appreciate music

Karl Peterson – Latvian man who taught the Irish to smoke a pipe

Ivan Beshoff: the battleship Potemkin mutineer who became a hard-working Irish capitalist

Russia’s Irish ally George Reavey

Thomas Moore wrote the lyrics of the popular Russian folk song Evening Bells

Michael Guerin and Boris Krivchenko: Aeroflot’s links with Shannon – relations built on trust

Irish ballerina Monica Loughman

Debbie Deegan’s 1200 children

Seamus Martin reported on the fall of the Soviet Union for the Irish Times

Luke O’Callaghan – Irish hero of Kazakh and Russian rugby

The Irish diaspora in Russia

Sara Smyth – Ireland’s expert in Slavonics

Maria Kiernan – director of the Russian Irish Cultural Association

Part II

Ireland’s Russian speaking community

Ludmila Snigireva: the music of love

Elena Degtyareva: dancing for joy and hope

Anton Petelchits: “Music is like air to me!”

Elisaveta Blumina introduces Ireland to Russian classical music

Tatyana Tsarik, artist, teacher of painting

Sergey Kuznetsov: musician, journalist, radio host

Smena, the Russian speaking photographic society artist and arts teacher

Oleg Ponomarev: the gypsy jazz virtuoso who made Ireland his home

Anna Shubina – director of Unison international choir and the children’s choir Happy Tones

Irina Vasilevicha – Ireland’s most glamorous photographer

Kosa – the Russian airsoft club that no team in Ireland can beat

Russian speaking sports organisations in Ireland

Smithfield boxing club

Russian kings of the dance conquer Ireland and the world with their skill

Alexander Baburin: Ireland’s only chess grand master

Trinity College Russian Society

Russians in UCD

Galway’s Russian speaking community

The Russian language teachers’ association Eurolog Ireland

Inspiration – Russian language and cultural centre in Dublin

Cork’s Russian school

Rainbow – the biggest Russian school in Dublin

Father Michail Gogolev was the first full time Russian orthodox priest in Ireland

Father Michail Nasonov

Father George Zavershinsky

Anna Rooney – the Russian woman who was elected into Irish politics

Alexey Ivanov: poet and citizen

The economist Constantin Gurdgiev

Sergey Tarutin – publisher of immigrant newspapers

Appeal to readers

Chairman of Government committee on affairs of compatriots abroad

I present for your consideration a book on the Russian Diaspora. Let it be noted that the book is written by compatriots themselves, and tells us how their destinies unfolded and their numbers dispersed. Its keynote is in that, disregarding their differences, these people are all connected by a love for their homeland, representation of the Great Russian culture and pride in our country.

The development of relations and partnerships with foreign compatriots will always be among the highest priorities of Russia’s internal politics. This also concerns their legal rights and interests in strengthening the position of the Russian language and culture abroad.

Confident that the book will reach its target audience, I am sure it will offer convincing proof of traditionally close links with compatriots’ historical homeland and their commitment to a flourishing of the enormous creative potential of the “Russian world”.

S. Lavrov

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia

Dear Reader.

This book is kind of unique publication for you and about you. Everybody who indicate yourselves as Russianspeaking Diaspora of compatriots and citizens of “Emerald Island”  who interested in Russian culture and keeping connections with Ireland.

I’m pleased to say that in last decade Russian-irish relation developed dynamically and widely. Additionally to  economical relation, culture connection became important. Particularly this is became a tradition to conduct “Festival of Russian culture in Dublin” (Maslenitsa) and St. Patrick festival in Moscow.

I ‘m assure that Russian side do everything possible to develop all area of bilateral relation for benefit and interest of both nations.

At present time in Ireland living more than 100 thousand people for whom Russian language is tongue for multicultural relation. Just imagine how powerful this consolidating factor for Russianspeaking Diaspora and  everybody who’s interesting in Russia.

I hope this book will not only for deeper understanding connection between Russia and Ireland, but create new contacts which generate friendship in Russianspeaking community in Ireland and bilateral relations.

I want to with you good reading and success to authors and editors of this book.

Ambassador for Russia in Republic of Ireland Maxim Peshkov

In remembrance of Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Michael Timoshkin

06/08/1950 – 22/05/2011

Sunday, May 22 marked the passing of the Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Mikhail Timoshkin.

Michail Timoshkin was inaugurated Russian ambassador to Ireland in 2006. Before his appointment as Ambassador, Michail served as director of the Department of State Protocol of the Foreign Ministry. In this capacity he arranged the visits of foreign presidents and prime ministers to Russia and was often the first to greet them on board their planes. Michail also escorted Russian Federation leaders to foreign visits and summits. The diplomat was born in 1950 in Russia. In 1972, the future Russian ambassador to Ireland graduated from MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations). His career in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs began in 1974. Michail worked in various diplomatic positions both at the headquarters of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and abroad, and in 1993 he served as the Deputy Director of the Department of Consular Services of the Russian Foreign Ministry. In September 1999, Michail was appointed Acting Director of State Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2000 he became director of the Department. In 2008, Mikhail Timoshkin was granted a diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The death of the ambassador, who would have turned 61 in August 2011, came as a shock to all who knew him. Michail died of cardiac arrest at his Dublin residence.

Ambassador Michail Evgenyievich Timoshkin did a great deal for the Russian community in Ireland. He personally met with representatives of the communities in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and other towns in the country, helped organize events and opened receptions. Many of our readers will recall his personal involvement, concern and willingness to help. The ambassador also distinguished himself in sport. Last year it was he who established the Ambassador of the Russian Federation’s Cup Challenge, which is awarded in various sports to the winners of a tournament among compatriots.

It was Michail Evgenyievich’s honor to bring the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, to Russia in 2010. During her visit, Mary McAleese visited Moscow and St. Petersburg and met with President Dmitry Medvedev.

One must further note Mr Timoshkin’s active participation in the organisation of Victory Day celebrations, which is now likely to become a tradition for the Russian-speaking community of Ireland. As he explained at an embassy reception opening the celebration of the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War on May 9, 2010,   considered, Mikhail considered Victory Day the most important public holiday. “My father fought in the war,” he said an, “He died last year aged 92. And my uncle Michail, after whom I was named, was a military pilot. He died near Berlin 9 days prior to the Victory. So for my family, this date is very important.”

Although Michail Evgenyievich Timoshkin had lived in Ireland for less than five years, his work will ensure enduring high esteem and long memory of him in this country.


The publication of the book was financed by the “Russky Mir” (Russian World) foundation and supported by the Russian state commission for compatriots abroad and the newspaper Nasha Gazeta.

Idea: Sergey Tarutin

The book was compiled by: Sergey Tarutin and Viktor Posudnevsky

The project was implemented by Rusinfo Production Ltd and commissioned by Irish–Russian Enterprise Centre Ltd

Editorial board:

Sergey Tarutin

Viktor Posudnevsky

Anastasiya Bondarenko

Alexey Tarutin

Editor: Viktor Posudnevsky

English translation: Alexey Tarutin, Sergey Tarutin, Viktor Posudnevsky

Layout and design: Santa Silina

English proofreading: Feargus Denman

We gratefully acknowledge our contributors:

Victor Posudnevsky

Anna Lebedeva

Igor Maiden

Natalia Kabyak

Evgenya Tarasova

Svetlana Repina

Anastasya Remizova

Seamus Martin

Eugene Gordeichev

Alex Rudeev

Yekaterina Mikhailova

Anastasya Bondarenko

Alexey Tarutin

Sicilia Cappella

Alexey Ivanoff

Alex Sokolov

Feargus Denman

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