Fr Bobby Gilmore SSC


By Father Bobby Gilmore

This article was first published on the website of the Columbans in Ireland in December. Though Monica and Krzysztof are from Poland, their experience is similar to that of some Filipino couples in Ireland.

Birds stuck between two branches get bitten on both wings (Dinaw Mengestu)

Recently, I met Monica Mysko, an immigrant from Poland. In a conversation with Monica one would be given to think that she is a native of County Meath. Her accent and her English are perfect. Although she learned basic English as a child going to school in Legnica, a town near the German border, she has perfected her English as an immigrant in England for two years and in the past two years since she arrived in Ireland.

Tommy, His Mother And I

By Fr Bobby Gilmore SSC

Fr Bobby Gilmore, a Columban from Ireland and a regular contributor to these pages, spent many years in Mindanao and later in Jamaica. He then worked with Irish migrants in Britain where, with others, he helped secure the release of a group of Irishmen wrongly jailed for a bombing. He is the Chairperson of the Migrant Rights Centre in Dublin ( Here he reflects on the heartbreak involved in emigration, drawing on an experience while in Jamaica. For Jamaicans the ‘Barrel’ symbolizes everything that the Balikbayan Box does for Filipinos.

A crisis of papers unfixed,
two three jobs as a domestic
and weathering the cold,
the barrel
in her kitchen-corner

a ship’s hold, constantly
waiting to be filled –
This time bargain clothes,
employers’ cast-offs
for the children back home

(Grace Nichols, Jamaican poet)

‘We’re Kiwis’

By Father Bobby Gilmore


Our trivial fights
over spading
The vegetable patch,
painting the garden fence
ochre instead of blue,

And my resistance
to Armenian food
In preference
for everything American,
Seemed, in my struggle
for identity,
to be the literal issue . . .