More than 1500 nationals come together under the Alliance cultural centre. The Alliance is involved in organizing various projects: holidays, family boat trips, group park meetings and trips to Dublin for Russian-language events. We also organize charity actions, collect items and send them to orphanages in Moldova and Ukraine, and release a monthly Russian newspaper. It has become a tradition throughout the multinational Russian-speaking community to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Galway. And in November, the Galway Town Hall Theatre hosted the premiere of a documentary film about our fellow countrymen.
A major project of the Alliance is a Russian school called “Paper Crane.” Lana O’Reilly, a teacher in the Russian Sunday school, came to Ireland from Belarus. Now she is a mother of two children, and they speak English at home. When the eldest son grew up, there was a problem: the boy flatly refused to learn the Russian language. This was the beginning of Lana’s career. “My son is my inspiration”, says Lana, “I decided to start a Russian school for the sake of allowing children to communicate in Russian and practice reading and grammar so they should not forget their mother tongue.” The first class of the school was on February 3, 2008. Only five people in two age groups took part. Initially, there were many difficulties with placement, teaching aids and school attendance. But the Russian Embassy offered to support this wonderful initiative. Another important event was that Lana suddenly found a like-minded spirit to be the director of the school, Elena Steshenko. The two women did not interfere with each other’s work, taking responsibility where it is needed.
Nowadays, children in three age groups are enrolled in the school: the junior group consisting of children aged 2 to 4 years, the middle group aged 5 to 7 years and the senior group aged 8 to 11 years. With the support of the Russian Embassy, the school organises wonderful children’s events and arranges travel for meeting compatriots from other cities.
Elena Steshenko is one of the few who has spent many years working for the benefit of people from the former Soviet Union in Galway.
It must be said, the Alliance is one of the few Irish organizations of Russian speakers, who have not only learned to conduct the remarkable events and do useful things for the community, but successfully collaborate with local government agencies and foundations, umbrella organizations and NGOs. Several New Year’s events have been organised with the support of the Galway City Partnership, the children learned to write grant proposals and participate in the life of the city, and the Galway City Council welcomes Alliance members’ initiatives.