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The Greening of Red Square

The Floor is heaving as a huge crowd dances in front of the musicians on stage, who are blasting out jigs and reels as if in Co Clare. But this is downtown Moscow, and everyone is Russian.

An Irish cultural wave is sweeping the city, and it’s all the more remarkable for being all-Russian. At its centre is a man who speaks more Irish than many of the Irish themselves, so much so that he now makes his living teaching the language to other Russian Hibernophiles in the city – ask for Yuri Andreichuk, a sean-nós-singing bodhrán player!

With music comes dance and, across the city, many Russians attend Irish dancing classes weekly, with regular competitions and céilís, (that’s an Irish hoe-down to you), Around 12 Irish dancing schools in Moscow have more than 1,000 formally registered dancers, more of whom seem to have visited Ireland to learn dancing than their musical colleagues. The schools are run by Russians, but with assistance from visiting Irish experts – but fear not, there’s not a Michael Flatley in sight.

While there are no festivals yet in place, it is only a matter of time, so watch this space.

Fly from London Heathrow with British Airways, BritishAirways, from £260 return to Moscow Domodedovo, or Aeroflot from £165 return to Sheremetyevo, Aeroflot.

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