Konrads Petersons, Latvian and Irish civil rights and social activist, entrepreneur, born in Riga, Latvia, that time incorporated in Russian Empire (Eastern part of Latvia (Livonia) was invaded and annected in 1710 by Russia and for 200 hundred years many unrests took part here)
Konrad's father was owner of pub in Zasulauks (Sassenhof) suburb of Riga.
After graduating of primary school, Konrads entered Mangali Maritime school, but soon his studies were interrupted due Revolution of 1905.-1907. He was only 17.
The Revolution of 1905 was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, national unrests and military mutinies. 94% of the parishes in Latvia were involved in the unrest
It led to Constitutional Reform including the establishment of the State Duma of the Russian Empire, the multi-party system, and the Russian Constitution of 1906. After martial law was declared in Latvian territories and mass executions and arrests were started by Russian military administration, Konrads fled Latvia in 1907.
In 1907 he arrived to Dublin to join his uncle Charles Peterson of the pipe firm Kapp- Peterson.
He enrolled as a student in University College Dublin and was a participant in the events surrounding the 1913 Dublin lockout.
Konrads was a friend of the Gifford sisters, two of whom were to marry men whose names figure high in the story of the 1916 Rebellion. Muriel Gifford married Thomas McDonagh and her sister Grace married Joseph Plunkett the night before he was executed in Kilmainham Jail.
Another Gifford sister Mrs. Sidney Czire who wrote under the nom de plume ‘John Brennan’ gave a detailed statement to the Bureau of Military History in which she referred to the help given by Konrad Peterson to Irish republicans protesting against the visit of the British King and Queen to Dublin in 1911.
Konrad Peterson married an Irish girl, Helen Yates, sometime after he received his naturalisation papers in May 1915.
The couple returned to Riga, the city of Konrad’s birth, soon after Latvia regained independence from Russia in November 1918.
In Latvia Konrad Peterson is not remembered as one of the many young men involved in the 1905-1907 Revolution and as a friend of one of Latvia’s greatest poets, the social-democrate Janis Rainis.
In Latvia Konrad Peterson started business for manufacturing of peat largerly available in Latvia. Soon he became a director for state enterprise responsible for peet manufacturing in whole country.
In the WWII he emigrated from Latvia to Sweden.
Peterson subsequently return to Ireland following a meeting with Tod Andrews at a conference in Sweden. Andrews, appointed by the Fianna Fáil government to head up Bord na Mona, became aware of Peterson’s previous links with Irish republicanism and invited him to take up a management position with Bord na Mona. Konrad Peterson was to manage Kilberry peat works for many years during which time he lived in Church Road in the house now occupied by the Casey family. Indeed the late Paddy Casey succeeded Konrad as manager of the Kilberry Works following the latter’s retirement.
Last week a small group of Latvian people, headed by the Latvian Ambassador to Ireland, paid tribute to Konrad Peterson who died in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy aged 93 years on 16 January, 1981.
For some time previously he had resided with his daughter and her husband Dr Dermot Murphy in Whitecastle Lawns, having returned from Canada where all three lived for a time following Konrad’s retirement from Bord na Mona.
Konrad Peterson’s involvement in the Latvian Revolution and the later rebellion in Dublin gives him a unique place in the respective histories of both countries.
Fragments from Frank Taaffe article
Source: wikipedia.org, news.lv, mod.uk