The Tragedy of Ooliutch (Oolytch)
and the 100th Year of Our National (Ukrainian) Anthem
In the valley circled by forests and mountains and situated in the horseshoe of the river Sian [San] closing it from east, south and west, existed (still not long ago) in the history of crucified Lemko-land (Lemkiwschyna) an old, large village of Ooliutch (also known as Oolytch or Ulytch).
Ooliutch was known in history because of its situation on the trade routes of four cities: Sianik, Dyniv, Bereziv and Bircha. This fact was also detrimental to the village during wars and it was ransacked many times. But despite all these ruinations, Ooliutch survived for ages and prospered, and was very aware of its history and its Ukrainian origins. In fact, its population was very well educated so that until 1939 (when Poland was attacked by Germans) it was much ahead culturally, as compared with other Ukrainian villages that after World War I were under Polish rule. [E.g. Halytchyna, Wolyn, Hutsulschyna, Podilla, Polissia, etc. — here I am adding this on my own, so that you would understand that all the Ukrainian folk art, like pysanky, are different according to the regions, and even to the villages and cities of these regions — but all are so called Western Ukraine — west of river Dnieper and Kiev. Now back to Ooliutch…].
There were two churches, a good school, the association Prosvita, the co-op Unity (for food and agronomic goods and hardware), children’s preschools, a beautiful choir and an amateur theater. The huge wooden cross was erected in memory of those who died defending Ukraine — it was visible for miles. But the most treasured memorial of this village was an old church of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, built from wood [the name of the wood is not known to me and I cannot find it in the dictionary — in Ukrainian, „modryna”) and erected on the Dubnyk mountain in 1510. This church had also a defensive character, as it was inside of three thick layers of walls to serve as a bastion against Tatar invasions. Its beautifully painted iconostasis was built by monks in 1683. Basilian monks had an iconographic and carving school where icons, iconostases generations of the truly beautiful, intellectually developed and most of all, conscious of its Ukrainian origins, VILLAGE THAT IS NO MORE.
The last names of the former citizens of Ooliutch: Bagan, Badyra, Badyrka, Bodnar, – Baranyk, Balka, Verbytskyj, Vlasenytch, Varskyj, Vovk, Vujcik, Hondzio, Hatala, Holovko, Husak, Drobit, Dorotzkyj, Dobrianskyj, Dziubakevytch, Dyk, Dziadyk, Ivanytzskyj, Klysh (Klish), Kibala, Krajnyk, Kohut, Kreko, Kulyk, Kostevytch, Kotianskyj, Klym, Kocyla, Kocan, Khatchanyj, Kosteckyj, Kovalskyj, Klatchyk, Panykivskyj, Levkovytch, Levytzkyj, Morajko, Maksymiv, Michno, Moskal, Miltchanovskyj, Mycha, Okriak, Polyvka, Polanskyj, Pantchyshyn, Petrushak, Petryshyn, Prohorovytch, Podoliak, Pavlovskyj, Pufkyj, Soltykevytch, Soletzkyj, Serednytzkyj, Sosnytzkyj, Slabyj, Strus, Tchir, Tratch, Fym, Charadtchan, Cholavka, Choma, Chuchra, Tsyklynskyj, Tcharneckyj, Tchubeniak, Shul, Shlachtytch, Shtchurko, Juchnyk, Javirnytskyj, Jalynskyj, Gulatchok, Gbur, and Rutzkyj.
The women of the village were doing specialized embroideries and ornaments („koronka”) for women’s national costumes of this particular region and even for a particular village.
In 1938 the village chose a beautiful place (piazza) for the building of a monument to Rev. M. Verbytskyj, the composer of the hymn of Ukraine — but the war of 1939 stopped all the plans and the work.
In this year, 1963, when all the Ukrainians in the whole world celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hymn „Shtche ne vmerla Ulcraina” — whose composer was a native Ooliutchan, the son of today’s crucified Lemkivshchyna, I wish to share these remnants of the memory of a village in the silvery belt of the river Sian [San] and to send a prayer before the altar of the Almighty, praying for the freedom of the descendents of this beautiful village, to glorify freely the Almighty Creator of the universe.
After World War II — Lemkivshchyna was no more part of Ukraine. Under the Russian-Bolshevik-Polish rule, the Ukrainians of Lemkivshchyna were forcefully resettled to Poland (under the decree of the so-called „Akcija Wisla”). [Wisla = main Polish river Vistula.]
Translated by Irene Ochrymowych, Christmas 2008