Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day 35 EUROPE TRIP - LITHUANIA - Paberže, Anykščiai Region

20 June 2009

LITHUANIA – Paberže, Anykščiai Region

It was time to say a temporary goodbye to our hosts and head to Paberže and Anykščiai Region. Our first stop was at Paberže as I wanted to see the manor where my great, great grandparents had lived.

The manor built in 1793 is set within beautiful surrounds.

It is now a museum to commemorate the 1856 uprising.

Prior to the uprising planning meetings were held at the manor. My great, great grandmother must have been a seamstress as she is accredited with making the uprising flag. A replica of it was in the museum. This was an interesting snippet of information for me as I am a quilter.

Apparently some of the weapons used locally in the uprising were made at the smithy attached to the manor.

After the uprising the family was exiled to Siberia and the manor was confiscated. A copy of a photo of those deported to Siberia – Tomsk – was exhibited

as well as a copy of a letter from my great, great grandfather, Stasys Šilingas, requesting permission to return here from Siberia. His request was denied. It is interesting to see the parallels in life between him and my grandfather by the same name.

Yeas ago, I had worked on the family tree. I realise now that there is so much more information to explore in the Lithuanian Archives. To do so, I would have to come over and dedicate time just for this task. Maybe one day I will be able to do this.

Outside the church there is a statue dedicated to the family, even though no one is buried here, in recognition of the input the family made to the area. It names my great, great, great grandparents and their children.

My ancestors built a wooden church here in 1787. After it burnt down, a small chapel was built in its place. On arrival of a priest the church was rebuilt in 1858 again with funds from my ancestors.

This church became famous during the chaplancy of Father Stanislovas, a Capuccian monk, during the Soviet period. He contravened Soviet directions by having the national flag and openly presiding over marriages and baptisms. He focused on helping people . He engaged the unempoyed/drunks in tasks so that they would be too busy to indulge in drinking or other vices. For example he collected brass pots for them to clean and then made a feature wall of it.

He collected vestaments during the Soviet times and in the process saved many from destruction.

To avoid metal fences from the cemetry in being recycled into other things by the soviets he collected them and created a fence around the church out of them. Consequently, each section between concrete pillars/bricks is different. He also collected and made traditional wrought iron crosses as well as traditionally styled crosses out of recycled metala. Eventually he got others to help him make them as demand for them was high. One of these crosses is on my parents-in-law grave in Sydney. We also have one at home having brought it back from our 1990 visit to Lithuania.

From here we travelled north through bright red poppy fields

through Anykščiai to the village of Ragaičiai to stay at „Tarp Liepu“ as there was a concert here in the evening by our friend’s jazz group „Jazz Island“. In Lituania ‚Kaimo Turizmas‘ provides an accommodation network whereby you can stay at what had been a farm for a very reasonable rate.

Each place is different and has its own character. This place offered different levels of accommodation and in future will also cater for campers. It was a beautiful place. We would happily recommend this particular venue to others.

The outdoor concert „Retro Melodijos – Naujai“ (Retro Tunes A-new) was fabulous. The repetoire was varied. Songs were sung in lithuanian and english. At the end they sang a song ‚Welcome to Lithuania‘ specially for us.

I felt sorry for the performers as there were tons of mosquitos and not once did the female singers let on that they were under attack by the mozzies.

After the concert we spent some time with them and heard a few more songs. It really is a very professional group. We are looking forward to the release of a CD by them in the new future.

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