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    FIS publishes guide to elders’ lunch clubs

    Friday, September 12th, 2008

    The Federation of Irish Societies in Britain has published the “FIS Guide to Setting Up an Elders’ Lunch Club”. It looks like a great resource for groups interested in enhancing the lives of elders. The handbook notes the benefits of a lunch club are extensive:

    A lunch club, not only allows organisations to improve their relations with elders but also provides an excellent social networking opportunity (for some elders, isolation is a stark reality within their lives) as well as offering an access point for various community services, i.e. Health, Benefits, etc.

    It’s a really comprehensive guide, covering organisational issues, finding premises, training volunteers and staff, nutrition and menus, promotion, record keeping, finances, and suggested meals.

    See the Guide on the FIS website.

    Member Publication: “Memories of the Past”

    Friday, August 1st, 2008

    Ottawa’s Irish Drop-In Group has created a wonderful miscellany called “Memories of the Past: Stories and Recipes from Ottowa’s Irish Drop-In Group”. The eclectic collection of reminiscences, poems, jokes, photographs and more is a splendid insight into the lives of the 40+ seniors in the drop-in group, which meets every week at Margaret Mary’s Church in the south end of the Canadian capital.

    Some of the contributions focus on individual stories of emigration and Irish and Canadian life, while others focus on the Irish history and heritage of the Ottawa area. Irish immigration to the area began in the early years of the 19th century, with sponsored immigration schemes; judging by this book, the Irish heritage of the area is rich and deep.

    The book also contains about 60 recipes, including such traditional favourites as barm brack, colcannon, champ, porter cake, beef stew, and many soda bread recipes. A treat!

    For more information, visit the website for the Irish Society of the National Capital Region.

    Pictures of the launch event are also available. (scroll down in the centre section until you see the link to the June 8 event.) You can also hear contributors to the book at The Gaelic Hour website.

    Would you like to share what your group is doing? Drop a line to and I’ll share it with Ean members.

    Emigrant chaplains featured on TG4

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

    A four-part documentary is telling the stories of emigrant chaplains in Britain and the US. Séiplinigh na nImirceach, being aired on TG4 throughout May, tells the story of four members of the Emigrant Chaplaincy Scheme, which was set up in 1957 to serve emigrants in the US and Britain.

    One of those interviewed is Ean board member Sr Attracta Heneghan, who worked with the Irish in Huddersfield. Also featured is Fr Michael Leonard, who works in Chicago.

    See the information at the bottom to watch the programmes online.

    The filmmakers say:

    As Chaplains they were there to provide pastoral care to the emigrants but more often found themselves much more deeply involved in the lives of the emigrants than they could possibly have imagined. For many emigrants the Chaplain was seen as a first port of call, to sort accommodation, and employment and to deal with the difficulties many young Irish found themselves in in a strange land. In recent years, we have become very aware of our ‘Diaspora’ and their role in the development of today’s Ireland. In this series, the Chaplains have the opportunity to tell their own side of the emigration story. We also hear from the emigrants themselves, those who have stayed abroad and those who returned.

    The programme also looks at parallels with new immigrant communities in Ireland.

    The programme airs on Sunday nights at 9:30 throughout May. Here are the outlines for the individual programmes:

    Programme 1 An taithí I Londain Sunday May 4th
    Fr Tom Looney is currently Parish Priest of the Gaeltacht community of Dingle. As a young priest he was sent to London to work as an Emigrant Chaplain. Through his experiences we introduce the work of the Emigrant Chaplains and the importance of their role. We also draw parallels between his work London with Irish emigrants and the contemporary situation in Dingle for the new immigrant communities.

    Programme 2 An taithí i Huddersfield – Sunday May 11th

    The second programme in our series looks at the particular experiences of those who emigrated to Huddersfield in the North of England. Huddersfield always had a particular draw for emigrants from Connemara, and in recent years, Sr Attracta Heneghan worked with the older Irish emigrants who have settled there. Now back in Ireland, Attracta meets with Sr Marilyn, a Nigerian Nun who has come to Ireland to provide pastoral support for African immigrants who are settling here.

    Programme 3 An taithí i Sasana – Sunday May 18th

    Fr Gearoid Ó Griofa reflects on his work as an emigrant chaplain with particular responsibility for emigrants in London from Gaeltacht areas in the 1980’s. We examine how today’s chaplains in London are working with the elderly and often lonely Irish emigrants, the same generation which the original chaplains were sent to help 50 years ago. In his current role as PP in the suburbs of Galway Ó Griofa also comments on challenge of multicultural Ireland with examples of cooperation with local NGOs and foreign chaplains.

    Programme 4 An taithí i Chicago – Sunday May 25th

    Our fourth programme follows Fr Michael Leonard on his rounds in Chicago – a particularly Irish city. His brief is to work with newly arrived and undocumented Irish, but the old established Irish community (and their children) still welcome the connection with the Irish priest. We feature contributions from the older Irish-American community who had to leave Ireland and the newer generation who are in USA by choice.

    Watch the programmes online! They are subtitled, in case your Irish is rusty. Here is how to find them:

    1. Go to
    2. On the left, click on “Cláir Eile – Cartlann”
    3. Scroll down until you see each of the four episodes of “Séiplinigh na nImirceach”.

    IECE replaced by Commission for Migrants

    Monday, March 31st, 2008

    The Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants has been restructured. The move was announced following the March 2008 General meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference held in Maynooth.

    The IECE has been replaced by the Commission for Migrants, which is a Commission of the Irish Episcopal Conference. This Commission is supported by a Council for Immigrants and a Council for Emigrants.

    The pastoral outreach for this new commission is guided by the norms set out by Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The love of Christ towards migrants), a 2004 Vatican document.

    See Erga migrantes caritas Christi

    “Irish Prisoners Abroad” published by DFA

    Monday, August 13th, 2007

    A report highlighting the status of Irish prisoners abroad has been written by Chris Flood for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    According to “Irish Prisoners Abroad”, there are about 800 Irish prisoners abroad, although Mr Flood recognises that this estimate is likely to be on the low side, as not all prisoners are known to consular officials.  Prisoners serving time away from their home countries can be disadvantaged for a variety of reasons, and, the report notes, “their plight sometimes evokes little sympathy among some sections of the wider community in Ireland”. However, the Irish government has obligations as a result of international law to ensure the consular rights of prisoners.

    The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring prisoner welfare abroad. These include:

    • Recognise a need to ensure best international practice
    • Establish a new unit within the DFA dedicated to the consular needs of prisoners
    • Establish a register of Irish prisoners abroad.
    • Ensure that every prisoner have a right to a consular visit at least once a year.
    • Embassies should pursue the automatic notification of consular staff.
    • The policy dimension of NGOs such as the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas should be funded.
    • Prisoners should receive an information pack that would include the details of ICPO.

    In launching the publication, the Minister said,

    “Of course, if Irish people commit crimes abroad, they must face the consequences of their actions before the local criminal justice system. However, we have a responsibility to ensure that our people are not discriminated against as foreign prisoners, and that any concerns they may have regarding their safety or treatment, are brought to the attention of the relevant authorities within the local prison system or the civilian authorities where necessary?.

    The Minister pledged to examine the report to see how the Government might improve on current services.

    Mr Ahern also announced a grant of €218,000 to the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, paying tribute to the organisation’s work: “The ICPO is a valued partner in the provision of consular assistance to Irish citizens imprisoned abroad and compliments the work of our diplomatic missions”.

    Services meet final needs of emigrants

    Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

    Also on a funereal theme, the Galway Independent is carrying a story on “a mysterious Galway man”, now a New York resident, who has made a most unusual purchase – he has spent $100,000 so that he can be buried under Irish soil in America, where he has spent most of his life.

    The Independent reports that Pat Burke from Tipperary and Alan Jenkins from Cork decided to start their website,, when they realised that there were many Irish emigrants who wanted Irish soil as part of their funeral commemorations.

    While most are contented with a three-quarter-pound bag of the specially-treated soil, which costs $15, the Galway-born businessman had a different idea. Mr Burke says the weathly New Yorker was “in two minds as to where he wanted to be buried (either in his native Ireland or his adopted USA), so he contacted us and got the best of both worlds”.

    Pat added, “People living abroad get very sentimental about things and the idea of buying the soil or shamrock seed lets them feel a bit closer to home”.


    Read the whole story at the Galway Independent.

    There’s also another company that aims to meet the needs of emigrants contemplating what should happen to their remains – Ashes is a family-run service that will scatter cremated remains in Ireland.


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