Echoes of a great European nation in Ireland

Echoes of a great European nation in Ireland Pawel Edmund Strzelecki, a polish hero who served Ireland in the Famine. Photo: The Irish Times
The Polish Society Yearbook 2018
Jaroslaw Plachecki (Polish Society, email:; post only, Polish House, 20 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, Ireland)


The Irish Polish Society was established in Dublin in January 1979. The members were largely Poles who migrated from their country following World War II.

The Society acquired its Centre – ‘Polish House’ – in a bequest in 2001. Apart from organising charitable, literary and social events, it occasionally publishes a Year Book, which generally contains articles in both English and Polish about historical events in which Poles and Irish people have interacted. The past issues were always interesting

In this issue Hanna Dowling describes the involvement of Pawel Edmund Strzelecki in the ‘Great Famine of 1845–49’. He was a Polish Count, a legendary world traveller and polymath.

Having volunteered to help with the tragic situation in Ireland he was appointed as the agent to superintend the distribution of supplies in the North-West. As he progressed through Cos Sligo, Mayo and Donegal his reports on the effect of the widespread starvation and various diseases were heart-rending.


Because of his competence and commitment he was appointed to supervise all the relief operations in Ireland in 1847. He continued in this role until the end of 1848 when he refused to take any payment from the British Treasury for his services. A great man whose name and achievements should be better known.

Ian Cantwell provides an account of the participation of a high-level Polish delegation to the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 1932. Led by Cardinal Hlond, Primate of Poland, its involvement in the activities of the Congress were reported at length by Poland’s leading journalists. Members of the delegation were immensely impressed by the religious devotion of the Irish people and the warm welcome they received. Like others, including famously G. K. Chesterton, they were enthralled by the extent to which people in the most deprived districts of Dublin had decorated their homes and streets for the Congress.

As he progressed through Cos Sligo, Mayo and Donegal his reports on the effect of the widespread starvation and various diseases were heart-rending”

Maciej Bogdalczk provides an important article on the renowned logician, Professor Jan Lukasiewicz, which highlights his significant scientific achievements. Born at Lvov in the Ukraine in 1878, he lectured in the University of Lvov and later in the University of Warsaw and in its Underground University during the German occupation (1939–44). With the assistance of a German colleague he was enabled to escape from Poland before the imminent arrival of the Russian army in 1944. He settled in Dublin, where he lectured in the Royal Irish Academy and later in UCD. A leading thinker in the area of Mathematical Logic, a plaque in his honour was erected on 57 Fitzwilliam Square, where he resided from 1946 to 1956.

Other interesting and valuable contributions to the Year Book include a discussion on ‘The Aggrieved Party in Ireland’s Brehon Law’. Patrick Quigley reviews Irish Drama in Poland: staging and reception 1900–2000. Dr Janina Lyons, the inspirational leader of the Irish Polish Society, is interviewed and provides a survey of the manner in which members of the society and their Irish friends supported the Solidarity Movement from 1987 onwards.

She singles out two outstanding friends of Solidarity during the dark days of the Communist Martial Law period: Fr Desmond Forrestal who donated the proceeds from his play Kolbe (on Fr Maximilian Kolbe) to Solidarity and Archbishop Dermot Ryan who authorised a church collection which realised €250,000 for the ‘Aid for Poland’ fund. There is also a list of the many and varied activities of the society in 2016/2017.

This Year Book and the Irish Polish Society could be an inspiration to other migrant groups. It could prompt them to set up their own national society which would invigorate their own communities and facilitate their successful integration into Irish society.