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A sporting celebration for Ireland’s Poles and Lithuanians

Last update - Thursday, May 7, 2009, 00:37 By Viktor Posudnevsky

Lithuanians and Poles living in Ireland got together to celebrate one of the biggest events in their shared history last weekend in sporting fashion.

But while they might have been one nation in the past, in modern times Lithuania has never been a match for Poland in soccer. Despite best efforts from their supporters, the Lithuanian under-13 team lost overwhelmingly to their Polish opponents.
“I don’t even know what the score was,” said a disappointed Ridas Bieliajevas, president of the Lithuanian Association of Ireland, after the final whistle. “Eight-nil, or maybe 10-nil.”
The Lithuanian team, comprising students from the Lithuanian school in Inchicore, west Dublin, managed to create a few good moments, but failed to score a single goal.
“Next time we’ll play basketball,” said the Lithuanian ambassador to Ireland, Izolda BričkovskienÄ—, referring to her country’s unbeaten track record in that sport. “It should be much better for us,” she joked.
The match, at Newpark Comprehensive School in Blackrock, south Dublin, was one of a series of events organised by the Polish and Lithuanian embassies in Ireland to mark the fifth anniversary of both countries’ accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004, as well as the adoption of the Polish-Lithuanian Com-monwealth’s constitution on 3 May 1791.
“Instead of some boring reception, we decided to organise a game and a family holiday,” said the Lithuanian ambassador. The weather was kind on the day and around 150 people gathered for the event.
“It’s a good example of integration, of being together,” said Tadeusz Szumowski, Poland’s ambassador to Ireland.
“It’s not only our two nations – I also found a good number of Irish friends and neighbours here.”
For many years 3 May has been one of the biggest public holidays in Poland, celebrated by extravagant concerts, military parades and ceremonies. On this day in 1791 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth adopted its constitution – the second document of this kind in the world, preceded only by the US constitution ratified in 1788.
Since 2007, 3 May is also a public holiday in Lithuania, and both countries now celebrate their membership of the EU at the same time.
“In Lithuania people hugely supoort the EU,” said Ambas-sador BričkovskienÄ—. Poland’s Ambassador Szumowski, add-ed: “There are more people in favour of the EU now than four years ago. Most Poles think it was a good decision.”

The Lithuanian embassy in Ireland is taking part in this year’s Europe Day celebrations at European Union House (18 Dawson Street) this weekend, 9–10 May.
Desserts from the Baltic country will be available at the Taste of Europe exhibition open to all from 11am to 4pm.

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