He was very interested in playing the guitar so I showed him a few chords and from then on he was hooked

“I don’t speak Russian but playing music is a language we all share. I’m from Connemara and growing up, having no TV, social gatherings were always based around music and singing. It worked very well in the orphanage too but there was this guy, a lovely fella, maybe 15-16 at the time. He was very interested in playing the guitar so I showed him a few chords and from then on he was hooked. He would take my guitar and sit down under a tree and practice for hours. His favourite was a song from Elvis Presley called ‘His Latest Flame’ he would ask me to say the words and he would write them down in Russian phonetically. He would use those scribbles and sing along with me. He hadn’t a clue what was he singing about but you should’ve heard him, he was fantastic! One of the days we had to go to visit another orphanage so he came with me on the train and I thought he deserved to have his own guitar so I bought him one. He looked after that guitar like a baby and he practised whenever he could. That was early in the year but when we returned a few months later, in September, it seemed like he lost all interest in playing. He didn’t even bring out his guitar when we came to visit. I really didn’t understand what happened to him. We talked and he asked me lots of questions about Ireland and if I love to live there… I didn’t know at the time but that was the last time I would speak to him. I had to leave very early the next morning and about three weeks later I got a call saying that he was killed… It turned out he owed money to someone. I realised he hadn’t lost interest, he must have sold his precious guitar to try to pay his debt… I wish I could have known…”

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