- June 13, 2014
Following the Traces of Polish Nobility in Lithuania
The trip to Ilguva (Iłgów) through Kaunas organised by the 21st International Poetry Festival “May by the Vistula and Neris”, in which I was fortunate to participate, lasted merely half a day. However, the poets that came from Poland and 14 other countries to Vilnius for the festival, were nevertheless excited about it.
We were thrilled about going to the Talko-Hryncewicz and Młynarski families’ former place of residence; what is more, our group included a guest from Switzerland: Barbara Ahrens-Młynarska, Emil’s granddaughter, an acclaimed actress and poet, the founder of Klub Miłośników Żywego Słowa (The Living Word Aficionados Club) in Switzerland, the sister of a famous Polish poet, director, theatrical singer, and satirist Wojciech Młynarski, and the aunt of Agata Młynarska, a famous journalist, actress, TV personality, and a host of the Festiwal Kultury Kresowej (Festival of Kresy Culture) in Mrągowo. They are related to a famous pianist Arhur Rubinstein, the husband of Aniela “Nela” Młynarska.
Thorough information on the Młynarski family and their well-preserved estate were provided to us during the trip by Henryk Sosnowski, the president of the Fundacja Kultury Polskiej na Litwie im. Józefa Montwiłła (Józef Montwiłł Polish Culture in Lithuania Fund) who has long made an effort to preserve remnants of Polish culture in Lithuania. As we know, he has faced many obstacles and difficulties while doing so.
Romuald Mieczkowski, the organiser of “May by the Vistula and Neris”, talked briefly about the towns that we were passing, while referring to the 25th anniversary of his magazine Znad Wilii.
The radio journalists participating in the trip, Aleksandra Akińczo and Krystyna Kamińska of Znad Wilii, and Renata Dunajewska and Regina Pakalnienė of a Polish programme on Lithuanian National Radio, were rushing to record every story.
And here we are in large village of Ilguva. It smells of freshly mown grass in here. It is late May but haymaking season has already started. At the top of the hill, there is the Feast of the Cross Church, where we are greeted by Łucja Talko-Hryncewicz, the last remaining in Lithuania descendant of the Talko-Hryncewicz family. She lives in Ilguva since she had returned from a prison camp in Siberia. Thanks to Mr. Sosnowski, we already knew that all members of the Hryncewicz family, including a popular Vilnius singer Beatričė Gryncevičiūtė (Hryncewiczówna), had been sent to Siberia. Ms. Łucja, who is seeking for the return of her family land and other property, told us that she got back over 148 acres (60 ha) of land and a house for servants. However, the mansion, a historic monument, is protected by the state.
There is a cemetery near the church. The old decayed monuments constitute the history of the former owners of the area. We are barely able to read one of the signs: “Henryk Talko- Hryncewicz, born 9.06.1829, died 14.XI.1878.”
Mrs. Ahrens-Młynarska wrote Zielnik rodzinny (The Family Herbal), which documented the history not only of the Talko-Hryncewicz and Młynarski families, but also of the Białłozorowicz family as well, since, according to her, part of property in Ilguva belonged to them. She learned all of that from her aunt Nela Młynarska and from a diary of her grandmother, Ala Hryncewiczowa.
As it sometimes happened in the past, many fascinating stories lied behind marriages in noble families. Mrs. Barbara told us one of them that happened in Ilguva: a girl from a noble family lived on the other side of the Neman River fell in love with a young master Hryncewicz. Her parents did not want to allow them to marry because of their different religions. However, one night the girl sneaked out and swam through the wide and deep Nemen River to Ilguva where her fiance had been waiting for her by the river bank. In the morning, they came to a church, where they got married; could a simple priest refuse members of noble families? Their families made peace and gave part of the estate to a newly-wed couple. One of their daughters, Anna Talko-Hryncewiczówna, was married to Szymon Młynarski, Belina coat of arms, born in Kybartai (Kiborty). They got married in the Feast of the Cross Church in Ilguva. The young master took great care of the mansion – built with larch wood and covered with shake shingles, the building is well-preserved despite the wars and the Soviet invasion. Since tt is still renovated, tourists cannot enter there.
On July 15, 1995, thanks to the Fundacja Kultury Polskiej na Litwie im. Józefa Montwiłła, a granite commemorative plaque with a sign in Polish and Lithuanian was put on the wall of the mansion. It was done in honour of the 125th birthday of Emil Młynarski, an excellent Polish musician, and the founder and conductor of the Warsaw Philharmonic. The sign reads: “A distinguished composer, conductor, and violinist Emil Młynarski lived and created in this house from 1895 to 1914.”
Tłumaczenie by Michał M. Kowalski w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Michał M. Kowalski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.