LITHUANIAN theatre fanatic Valdone Talutyte Masiene moved to Cork in 2005 with her husband Andrius Masys as part of a plan to save money and relocate to London.
More than 15 years later, Val, Andrius and their eight-year-old daughter Ilze Masyte are settled in Mahon with their six-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Tutis.
Val, who works as a marketing assistant with The Everyman for the past four years, said anytime the family thought about leaving Cork something happened to make them stay.
“There is something keeping us here,” Val joked, “now we have a full life here, house, family, jobs. We have become very comfortable in Cork, it is easy to have a good life here.”
While Val and Andrius are very happy here in Cork, the 39-year-old said there are times when she feels ‘split’.
Despite this, Val has a lot of fond memories made on Cork soil and said the day her daughter was born at Cork University Hospital was one of the greatest days of her life.”
Val, who has a deep interest in theatre and first entered The Everyman as an actor in 2005, performing in a play, but despite having a MA from UCC in Applied Theatre and Drama studies, Val prefers to be behind the scenes rather than on stage.
“I like to create the opportunities for others to shine.” The UCC graduate said she very much enjoyed her time at the Cork College.
“The course was very comprehensive and it covered a lot of things I had a lot of interest in.”
Val also found time to help out in her local community, prior to the pandemic.
“I have been involved in Mallow COPE foundation as drama facilitator for inclusive drama club ‘Kaleidoscope’ from 2006 till last year. Also, I am involved a lot with Lithuanians in the Cork community as well as teach drama in Lithuanian school ‘Banga’ in Cork.
“A group of us started the Lithuanian school in Nov 2005. Every Sunday kids would come together to chat and speak the language. Due to Covid restrictions after 15 years we were not able to open the school last September. The Lithuanian school was based in Bishopstown Community College.”
Val said she loves the Corkonian attitude and said she thinks Cork people are the friendliest people she has ever met.
“In the beginning, it was weird that everybody was saying hello to each other in passing and it didn’t matter if they knew you or not. I love it now and do the same when I go back to Lithuania. I do get strange looks, but smiles also, as in Lithuania normally you only say hello to people that you know.”
The Lithuanian lady also said that she was surprised at the litter problem in Cork.
“It's not that bad on the main streets, but when you go on lesser-known roads, there is always litter.”
Val said she thought that there was a greater sense of shame in Lithuania in relation to littering.
“I have seen people eating a sandwich walking down the street and just throwing the packaging onto the ground. You don’t see that in Lithuania, the parks and beaches are cleaner.”
Despite this flaw, Val said she has a great time for Corkonians and praised their storytelling talent.
Val and Andrius are settled in Cork, but they try to spend their summers in Lithuania and also like to holiday abroad annually.
“We have basically covered Europe. One of the biggest trips we did outside of Europe was Kenya and another one was India.”
Val said she thinks travelling has great benefits for society.
“There is something to learn in every country and culture and that is something everyone can learn. It helps us understand more and creates a better world for everyone.”
Despite being very settled in Cork, Val said she hopes someday to return to Lithuania.
“I like Cork. It is a beautiful city. I like people here, but there is always a very small piece of me that wants to go back to Lithuania. And I don’t like rain.”
Val said there are natural tendencies and behaviours that she has learned as a child in Lithuania that only make sense in her home country.
“Sometimes I don’t know how to act or behave here. I noticed it when a work colleague passed away and at the funeral I wasn’t sure if I should bring something or where to stand. In Lithuania it seems easier, it doesn’t have to be explained, I know what to do.”