He didn’t live to see his last book


The second part of Бібліоґрафії русиньскых народных співанок і народной творчости Русинів выходного Словеньска (Bibliographies of Rusyn Folk Songs and Spoken Word of the Rusyns of Eastern Slovakia) stayed unfinished in the publishing house. Who are we talking about? PhDr. Michal Hirjak, CSc., who, as a consequence of a severe and malicious illness, deceased on March 20th, 2007 and to whom we said our last goodbyes on March 23rd, 2007 in the Chapel of Rest in Prešov. His soul has found its peace and his remains, according to his last will, were buried in his home village of Pichňa in the Snina region, where he was born on November 27th, 1933.


Life runs like an impetuous horse and we do not even have the time to live, meet each other, or talk to each other. We did not even have the time to visit him in the hospital... It is sad, but there is nothing we can do now to make up for it, but we promised that his work will not be in vain, after all, apart from his last book that was left in the publishing house, he issued a treasure trove of publications, which will stay here for future generations. Whether it was a number of books of children’s stories, anthologies of folk spoken word, folk calendars, or numerous journalistic and academic articles in the area of ethnography. In each of his works there is a piece of him, that is how he gave himself and it was not for nothing. His descendants, the future generations, will find the golden seeds in his works and read them. His name is already inscribed on the Rusyn pantheon, he will be talked about in encyclopaedias, textbooks and monographs, which already happened while he was alive, and this is not the case with everybody.


In his life, M. Hirjak did a lot, apart from writing and working in the editorial office all his life long, he taught and educated the young generation at the Philosophical Faculty in Prešov, the P. J. Šafárik University in Košice, for many years, where he gave interesting lectures and seminars in the area of Rusyn folklore in Slovakia. What he knew, he also tried his best to pass onto his students. Surely, he will be remembered by many and they will always think good of him. After all, it was him who helped them explore the world of knowledge, to live a life full of productive work, and that means a lot. He also helped his children – son Slavo and daughters Taňa and Ľudka, whom he brought up with his wife Anna. For them, his passing is most poignant, as in them, his children, his blood flows. That is why their sorrow cannot be compared with our sorrow, or the sorrow of his long-term friends and colleagues.


M. Hirjak, from the very first days of the existence of our Rusyn Narodny Novînky and the magazine Rusîn, became an active correspondent, colleague, author of a number of books, which were published in cooperation with our editorial office. His contribution is undisputable, his work is rooted in hundreds of pages written in Rusyn. That is where his awakened self is, where his message should be looked for, where the treasure of spoken word of our Rusyn predecessors, which he collected, can be found. Thanks go to him for what he did for his Rusyn nation. Let’s not forget it!

Vičnaja Tobi pamjať! (Always in our hearts and minds.)

Alexander ZOZUĽÁK, Photo by the author, March 26th, 2007