Dublin’s Polish community today gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of the Smolensk air disaster which killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski, First Lady Maria and 94 others in Russia 1 year ago today.
The day was marked by a mass in St. Audoen’s Church on High Street in the city centre at 1 pm. The mass was celebrated by Fr. Jaroslaw Maszkiewicz, Chaplain and national co-ordinator to the Polish community in Ireland. St. Audoen’s Church was given by Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the Polish Community in Dublin, through the Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp, to be used as their chaplaincy 5 years ago. the crash site
Following the mass several hundred Polish nationals marched to the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell square for a memorial ceremony. People marched carrying Polish and Irish flags, flowers and a banner with the names of the victims of the crash.
The marchers were greeted by representatives from Dublin City Council, the Polish Embassy and clergy of all denominations. The ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance started at 2:41 pm in recognition of the official hour of the plane crash which was at 8:41 am Polish time on the tenth of April 2010.
St. Audeon’s Church
Along with losing their President and his wife, many political and military leaders perished in the crash.The ceremony consisted of 2 minutes of silence, the Laying of wreaths and flowers and the lighting of candles. The Polish National Anthem was recited along with poems by Polish poets in English and Polish. Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance
Today’s events were also been held to mark the 71st anniversary of the Katyn massacre. The massacre was the mass murder of over 21,000 Polish prisoners which took place in the spring of 1940 by the Soviet Union. President Lech Kaczynski’s plane was flying to Russia at the time of the crash to mark the 70th anniversary of the genocide.
The USSR invaded Poland shortly after Nazi Germany in 1939. The Polish were soon forced to surrender and 14,000 soldiers were taken prisoner by the Russians along with 7,000 professionals such as professors, lawyers, doctors, teachers, artists, officials, and many others.
Relations between Poland and Russia have always been tense since the collapse of communism with Polish authorities unhappy with Russia’s investigation of the Katyn massacre. Relations are now further strained with Poland angry at the handling of the investigation into the plane crash and efforts made to erect a memorial at the crash site.
Ceremonies and events were taking place all over Poland today to remember the death of their president a year ago. On the 13th of April Poland will observe a Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Katyn Massacre.
Despite the economic downturn Dublin continues to have a thriving Polish community with shops and businesses on many of Dublin’s street to provide them with a taste of home.
A memorial plaque